The release of Filmin’s original series Autodefensa (‘Self-defense’) on November 29 comes at the right time. A time when the sexist chants at Madrid’s Complutense University have once again become a source of shame. A time when the feminist movement has found a new anthem in Rigoberta’s lyrics. And when a new wave of climate activists is taking to museums to deface the world’s most famous paintings. They are the outpourings of a new generation, along with all its contrasting hues, that is leading the way – and sharing it all live – through Tik Tok, Instagram and Twitter. Generation Z truly is breaking molds and pushing boundaries.
And there’s some of all this in Autodefensa whose first five episodes premiere on November 29 on Filmin. It’s a series that definitely has something. It’s like that famous (but apocryphal) quip about the great Lola Flores along the lines of that she can’t sing, she can’t dance, but don’t miss her. Something similar could arguably be said about this series. It can simultaneously fascinate and horrify you, make you feel uncomfortable and amused, and all the while keeping you glued like a magnet to its goings-on.
Berta Prieto and Belén Barenys, widely known as MEME,are two friends in their twenties living life up in Barcelona with a lot of audacity and extreme emotion. With the same intensity with which they have sex, they recount their carnal adventures on Instagram, relate their anxiety attacks as they happen and reveal their dependence on drugs and on the dealer supplying them. It’s an uncensored show. And thus it constantly alternates between being brilliant and outlandish. Autodefensa is about precisely that, about them wanting to defy all emotional boundaries in order to find out who they really are. And it’s in the form of a fictionalized autobiography in the guise of a documentary about their lives and fears.
The creators of Autodefensa are three young members of Gen Z. It was conceived and is written by the two central characters, Belén Barenys (a cousin of Rigoberta Bandini and backup singer on her hit ‘Ay mamá’) and Berta Prieto. In the director’s chair is Miguel Ángel Blanca (Magaluf Ghost Town), who discovered them via Instagram and was instantly mesmerized.
The first of the episodes (all of which are self-contained) starts with them both nursing hangovers and going over their antics the night before. The storyline touches on the issues of consent in sexual relations and fears of falling prey to the social ostracism of cancel culture. “Berta and Belén boldly portray the conflicts of their generation because they are used to continuously breaking taboos. Imprudence is our top ally,” says Miguel Ángel Blanca.
And the show doesn’t spare any details. Neither an erect penis in full-blown masturbation nor an ending that will leave the smile frozen on your face. It’s a more brazen generation whose codes of conduct will perhaps shock those born before the year 2000. “We’re two very scared radicals, afraid of lots of things, each for their own reasons, but the good thing is we’re friends and we’re not alone, which is why we can allow ourselves to be radical to the point of ridicule,” Belén and Berta explain.
The next episode unfolds with just such bravura. With an erotic fantasy embodied by the other main character, Berta Prieto, who seeks casual ‘fast-food’ sex with playful ‘daddies’. It’s true that in this new series there’s something of the spirit of that controversial indie sensation Kids, the film about young New Yorkers whose lives revolved around alcohol, drugs and sex. Shot this very year in Barcelona, Autodefensa emerged at the tailend of the pandemic, an experience which has marked this generation, one that embraced the end of lockdowns with a lust for partying and living without limits.
Autodefensa, filmed at the home of the two of its stars, as well as in their actual nocturnal haunts, speaks of a critical moment for various generations. It holds up a mirror to ruptures and fears, to impudence as a form of self-protection, and to invented autobiographies as a kind of self-defense, the creators say.
Produced by Boogaloo Films, there are 10 episodes varying in lengths from 10-20 minutes. In addition to being self-contained, each episode was conceived, recorded and edited with its own unique style. The first five will drop on Filmin on November 29, with the next five to follow suit on December 6. “Autodefensa” has been nominated at the Feroz Awards for Best Comedy Series and Best Script.