Finals week is among most college students which naturally means doing all things necessary to avoid studying. For me, this means watching an entire Netflix show in less than 24 hours (it was only 8 episodes so not actually that bad). But I’m going to talk about that show, called Cable Girls.
The first half of season 1 was released just last week, its a Spanish show, with voiceovers in English so subtitles are not needed, set in Madrid in the late 1920s, amidst the beginnings of the suffragette movement. It follows the lives of 4 young women coming to Madrid from various different backgrounds to work as operators at a telephone company, one of the few positions women could hold. They were working during the fictional first transatlantic telephone call, between the King of Spain and President of the United States and the premier of the first ever rotary phone.
The show itself is filled with drama, romance, comedy, and best of all, the foundation of feminist ideas (I know, I know, how many posts can I possibly write about feminism… The answer is a lot). These women, Alba (sometimes Lidia), Carlota, Ángeles, and Marga discuss the struggles they are facing as women and their lack of power in a world with laws written by men for men – everything is stacked against them. We see them pushing for independence from their husbands and fathers, longing to continue working, sacrifices made to enter the workforce in the first place, being arrested for attending a meeting pushing for equality, and their desire to ultimately be free.
Beyond these ideas, there are a number of other things making this show stand out. For starters, a relationship between 2 women, then expanded to an extent to include a man, in other words polyamory, which looking at the setting of the plot, was a surprise to me. Within that relationship, there is a notion of one character possibly discovering she wishes to transition to a man, although this is not definite even the allusion to a potential transgender character is amazing and crazy. Mental health is also addressed in a supporting role, but present nonetheless. Abuse, miscarriage, and espionage (as well as a bit political uprising stuff) are some of the other topics touched on.
There are a lot of things that could have gone wrong with this show, but the writers seemed to hit the nail on the head with most of it. With shows and movies taking place in this time period, it can sometimes seem like the plot is based around the male characters rather than female, when really the story should be about the women. I haven’t seen this so far; all the women are acting as independently as they can and none of their stories are being told from their husbands’/boyfriends’/fathers’ perspective. Even in stories not specifically about women’s rights, many female characters are included simply to further the characterization of the males, but in Cable Girls, I’ve been seeing the opposite, which is very refreshing.
I think the cast could have used more diversity, but that being said, it is based on Spain’s suffragette movement and I’m not as familiar with the diversity of Spain then or now and if historic accuracy was the goal, it’s fine, I’ll move past it for all the other good things. I did suddenly have a desire to know Spanish so I could listen to the original script but the translation was done well. Overall, I think this show was well executed and doesn’t undermine the struggles of women and is definitely worth checking out if you need something new to watch. And if not for the women’s movement, watch it for the drama because holy cow it’s wild. I literally watched it all last night instead of studying for my stat final but it really was worth it.
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