On December 1, Movistar Plus+ premiered its new original series Fácil. It’s the TV adaptation of the novel ‘Lectura fácil’ (Easy Reading) by Cristina Morales, which was commissioned by Anna R. Costa, co-creator of Arde Madrid (Burn Madrid Burn).
The production met controversy even before the streaming service had released it, when the book’s author complained in Rockdelux magazine that the new series omits criticism “of today’s disability and mental health establishments in order to try to reach a broad democratic public.”
Costa’s response, which came at the San Sebastián Festival months later, was blunt: “The author can only comment on how much she was paid.” It’s the basis for a potential debate on whether those who create culture can sell it so that others can do what they want with it, or not.
And this is what Fácil generates in its 5 half-hour episodes – controversy, debate and reflection, both internal and external. The interesting thing about the new show is that for viewers wanting something more, it won’t leave anyone indifferent. And that’s something that not every production achieves.
Does it laugh at the protagonists, or with them?
Fácil is a comedy about Marga, Nati, Patri and Àngels, four women with functional diversity who live in a supported apartment in Barcelona. It depicts their struggle to survive in a society that has marked certain limits for them that some accept better than others.
It could be the story of any apartment shared by twenty-somethings living in an uncertain world, but in this case they must also deal with the constant threat of having to go back to the center for people with intellectual disabilities they were previously shut away in… And where they don’t want to return.
From this premise, each of them goes through a series of life experiences that, on the one hand, demonstrate the infinite variety of people who are usually classified as just one group (and almost with only one personality) under the limited label of “disabled”.
At the same time, the five girls will make viewers laugh but also ask themselves if they are laughing at the characters or with them. Whether they are depicting ridiculous characters who are incapable of communal living or is it the complete opposite and instead they are showing us that the world encompasses much more than what we wrongly call “normal”.
Whether the rules that we (not they) have set for communal living really are necessary or whether they simply make it difficult to accept that all kinds of people have a right to live in the community.
Did they get the tone and cast right?
It’s hard to tell stories from a perspective we’ve never held or are unfamiliar with. Yet that’s what science fiction has always managed to do and we consider it amazing. Doing so with stories that are meant to reflect reality is trickier, however.
In this case, Fácil tells its story with a mix of tragedy and comedy that both the script and the actresses deliver to perfection. And the latter are the ones who have arguably generated the most debate on social media.
Anna Castillo, Natalia de Molina and Coria Castillo do not actually have the disabilities their characters do, leaving Anna Marchessi, who has cerebral palsy, as the only cast member who does. The choice of the first three has upset many who believe that only women who themselves have functional diversity should play such women.
It’s an ongoing debate that has arisen throughout the history of fiction when certain segments of society are depicted in TV shows (or movies) by actors who do not pertain to them. Add to the controversy other ingredients, such as intrusiveness and parody, but at the end of the day, isn’t this what an actor’s job is, to put themselves in the shoes of others?
At any rate, Fácil guarantees debate. Because whenever a series is made about people with functional diversity, it will be subjected to closer scrutiny, and even more so when its stars, writer and director are all women. But is there anything more enriching than a series that invites reflection and leaves no one indifferent?