Drama, deceit, danger: Hierarchy tropes reign over Mexican series

In our pop culture, it seems that our society, regardless of any decade, has an affinity for a certain type of television shows. We seem to be drawn towards shows that center very wealthy families dealing with Shakespearean levels of drama, dark secrets, and corruption throughout whatever businesses that have been in the family for generations. From “Dallas,” “Dynasty” and even “Revenge,” it’s clear that we’re interested in watching how the lives of the wealthy unfold. 

“Monarca,” a Mexican series created by Netflix with Salma Hayek as executive producer, follows a group of siblings as they fight for control of their family’s large conglomerate. Not only do they fight amongst themselves, but there are secrets that threaten to bring their family business and legacy down. 

As the series progresses, we see the characters deal with not only the outside forces of corruption, but family feuds as well. We follow the siblings as they each try to make their claim as the heir to the family empire, which stretches from liquor making to hotels. 

We are first introduced to Ana María Carranza, who is thrown back into the world that she left 20 years ago. As the show continues to unfold, the audience is slowly made aware of the secrets the families hides and the reason Ana left her family’s home. 

Each shot immerses the viewer into the world of the Moncarca empire, carefully giving us subtle hints as to what is going on within the show’s universe. The cinematography adds another layer to the complexities that the show creates with the characters and plot. It’s as if the camera is its own character. An example of this is the opening sequence of the first episode. We get the feeling of suspense and mystery that the show tries to lay out for the rest of the season.

While its camera work is a high point for the Netflix series, there are some areas that can be off-putting for some viewers. The show uses certain television cliches, such as the man having a not-so-secret affair that the wife knows about, that are out of place with the overall feel of the show. Not only that, but the dialogue at certain points falls flat and doesn’t move the story along at some points. The result of mediocre dialogue is one dimensional characters that attempt to drag along the plot to the end of its first season. Interactions between characters are hit or miss, making it difficult to fully immerse yourself. 

While “Monarca” is marketed as something different and thrilling, we’ve seen it before countless times in both Spansih and English media. If you’re a big fan of shows like “Dallas” or “Dynasty,” “Monarca” might be your next binge. However, if you’re looking for something that hasn’t been done before, this isn’t something you would be willing to watch in your free time.