Is it okay to laugh at someone’s fall from grace? Even if they’re going to jail as a result? What about making fun of prisons and prisoners? Or people who take advantage of their partner being behind bars in order to sleep with someone else? Yes, not only can you laugh, you should, because it’s good for you, just as Dos años y un día (Two years and one day) demonstrates.

Released by ATRESplayer PREMIUM this July, the series – produced by Atresmedia TV in collaboration with LACOproductora, Estela Films, Pólvora Films and Globomedia (The Mediapro Studio), starring Arturo Valls and written by Miguel Esteban, Raúl Navarro, Sergio Sarria and Luismi Pérez – leads viewers right to the edge of that fine line demarcating what’s funny and what’s going too far.

It does so through situations that will almost certainly be familiar to viewers, such as a celebrity who has fallen from favor, a comedian who is incarcerated for merely telling a joke, a pious judge who doesn’t separate his religious beliefs from his professional duties, and even prisoners with all kinds of opinions. We’ve seen it all before in the news, and it didn’t necessarily seem so funny … until now.

A story that holds a mirror up to us

Dos años y un día tells the story of Carlos Ferrer, a famous actor and presenter who is sentenced to jail for causing religious offense. With that as its premise, it goes on to hold up a mirror to us as a society, inspiring reflection on just how far we really want to go in terms of punishing someone for their sense of humor.

In a speech the main character makes in episode two, he makes clear the intentions of this comedy, using humor to emphasize the point:

“The jokes that offend me are those that attack real people, not fictional ones like the Virgin. No one should be imprisoned for a prank. Humor has a role to play in calling out our meanness and how we contradict ourselves, and thus to make us better people.”

That’s the goal of this series – to provoke reflection on to what point, with whom, and about what it’s okay to make jokes, and if there is a line that shouldn’t be crossed. As Carlos also says: “If I get stabbed with a knife made from a toothbrush simply for telling a joke, I will fight until you use that brush for what it’s meant to be used for, because that’s the key to a fairer world.”

‘Dos años y un día’.

Plenty of nods to popular culture (especially involving Atresmedia)

From the get-go in Dos años y un día, there are endless references to popular culture, to Spanish TV and celebrities, to reality shows, and to Spanish history.

Carlos Ferrer’s story is summarized for viewers in just a few minutes, as if it were the trailer for his own series. Like seeing your life flash by in the blink of an eye. Ending (and starting) at the entrance of a prison just like Isabel Pantoja and, furthermore, with a (fictional) copy of her memoir of her time in prison.

The news reports by Mónica Carrillo, the ‘heavenly’ cameo by The Javis, and the constant dropping of names like that of Manel Fuentes all give viewers more reasons to smile. That’s because they’re like an in-joke with the public, making all these references to things they are familiar with, that they have in common, and coming from someone who has obviously seen the same TV shows as you.

A prison series different from the previous

There’s certainly been no shortage of prison-based series – Prison Break, Locked up (Vis a Vis), Orange Is the New Black, and so on. In fact, in the last few years there’s been something of a boom in this genre. And what they don’t usually feature, and far from the usual baddies as you might expect, are stories of people who were in the right place at the wrong time.

‘Dos años y un día’.

That is also what Dos años y un día shows us – the injustice of a system that can deprive you of your freedom just for trying to make people laugh. It does so precisely by locating the comedy in one of the places most dreaded – a prison.

It’s a series that shows that you can laugh at even the greatest misfortunes, thus making them more bearable. It finds that little sparkle in every one of the prisoners accompanying the protagonist to the point that you even feel like paying a visit to this special prison. Indeed the key to freedom for many – laughter.

Paula Hergar
Paula Hergar is a 360 journalist as Paquita Salas would say, writes about TV in Vertele and presents, writes, and directs Zapping on LOS40. In addition to collaborating in cultural programs in La 2 and being the author of the book ‘Around the world in 80 series’.