THE UNEXPECTED MORAL IMPLICATIONS OF ‘MONEY HEIST’
This show has many plot holes.
Lately, there have been a lot of talk about con artists. They are glorified in media, often seen in movies and TV shows so it’s no surprise then that when conversations arise surrounding TV con artists, people speak about them with a certain zeal and enthusiasm So, maybe the buzz around Money Heist isn’t shocking.
However, despite the excitement surrounding stories of people pulling “a big one” on authorities, and depictions of them in TV and film, they often cause a conflicting viewing experience for the viewer who struggles to decide between siding with the criminal/ radical and acknowledging the immorality of their action. ‘Money Heist’ is one of those productions that is inciting a conversation around our fondness for criminality.
The 2017 series is set in Spain and shares the story of a man dubbed the Professor (Alvaro Morte) who has recruited criminals to pull off the biggest heist in the history of robberies. His goal is a lofty one; he wants to steal 1 billion euros of unmarked dollars and escape without a trace, no victims, with a lot of time, and the support of the Spanish public. His idea is to disguise the heist as a sort of protest of the greedy capitalist system they live in that allows the rich to get richer while the poor suffer.
Since Money Heist has been picked up by Netflix as an original production, its accessible in many languages including French, Italian, English, and Spanish, garnering a lot of international awareness, and a huge fan base. Of course with more eyes means more audiences have to decide who they should align with in the story: the thieves or the cops.
Before you decide though, consider these details. The thieves are lead by 8 criminals who have adopted the names of cities to maintain their anonymity. Berlin (Pedro Alonso) the narcissist, is the leader of the heist operation inside the mint, and his counterparts, are the reckless Tokio (Ursula Corbero), the impressionable Denver (Jaime Lorente), the fatherly Moscu (Paco Tous), the naive Rio (Miguel Herran), the intimidating Helsinki (Darko Peric), the fastidious Nairobi (Alba Fores) and the frightening Oslo (Joseph Whimms). They are each specialists at different aspects of stealing. Together they are terrifying with non-opposable authority.
With over 5 months of preparation, the team begin an enduring heist to align perfectly with a school trip by high-school students in a private school (strike one). Among them is Allison Parker (Maria Pedraza) the daughter of an ambassador. In the meantime, the Professor heads the criminal project outside the mint while the rest of the team maintain order over 67 hostages including staff members and visitors inside. Together they follow the elaborate plan of the professor, while dodging the Spanish intelligence and police unit who are working very hard to free the hostages and stop the robbers from getting away with the money.
As exciting as Money Heist begins, through the first and second season, the show wavers between feeling dragged on and problematic to entertaining and exhilarating. The beginning starts off strong, audiences are introduced to the fiery characters and their back stories. With all of the excitement surrounding the plan and their goal of ensuring that no one is harmed, you become apathetic to the fact that they are are indeed hardened criminals doing something wrong: stealing and endangering lives.
The second problem is that they are taking time away from the hostages through forced confinement, subjecting them to a traumatic psychological situation ( since none of them know if they will be harmed) and then asking them to silently comply with their orders—or else (strike two). While viewers can easily look at hostages like Arturo Roman (Enrique Arce) and Alison Parker as dumb for continuously risking their lives and other victims to break free, let’s put their trauma into context to make it more digestible.
For the hostages, it was a normal day for them then suddenly armed criminals barged in yelling, stopped them from leaving, threatened their lives with guns to control them, and this was all for their own selfish endeavours. So, with that considered, it makes perfect sense that they should be so terrorize that some would try and escape or offer favours to survive.
It’s not like the criminals have the best track records or relationship with the hostages either. Tokio tries to sexually assault Allison Parker, Berlin succeeds in doing so with Ariadna (Clara Alvarado) and Denver selfishly convinces Monica (Esther Acebo) to give up her life to become an accomplice in the name of love.
Worse, the professor deliberately targets inspector Raquel Murillo (Itziar Ituno) because she is an abused woman and therefore he thinks it would be easy to manipulate and use her (you guessed it, strike three).
He ruins her career and reputation, puts her relationships in danger and almost turns her into a criminal. He even acknowledges his abuse to her but tries to absolve himself with the fact that he has fallen in love with her which he didn’t plan. (She should feel better about the fact they he would have ruined her life and feigned a relationship, without actually caring).
When you really take a second to analyze the story and the way the characters are portrayed (namely the sexist attitudes of men to the women in the show and how women are portrayed as frail or crazy) the story doesn’t seem so simple and breezy. Ironically the victims are just collateral damage in the name of greed. The robbers wanted the same privilege to be as equally greedy and selfish as the rich and they wanted it by any means necessary. It’s actually a sad story.
‘Money Heist’ is actually the story of how a group of people are harmed by criminals and then glorified, thereby making their abuse lessened in the eyes of the public. No one feels their trauma or sees it as valid excepts for the cops; not even in real-life by those who champion the efforts of the criminals. But who cares right? I bet you wish you thought of the plan first. Still, all things considered, if you did, do you still side with the criminals?