Money Heist (La Casa de Papel) has risen the ranks as Netflix’s most popular show, but if you’ve watched the series, it’s not entirely a surprise. The Spanish-language series is one of the streaming service’s best offerings filled with charismatic characters, wit, plot twists, and passion. However, it wasn’t always a Netflix Original, and the worldwide success has been an unexpected albeit pleasant turn of events for the creators, writers, and cast.
The Netflix documentary “Money Heist: The Phenomenon (La Casa de Papel: El Fenomeno)” explores what makes the show such a thrilling addiction that has resonated with people all over the world.
What I found most interesting is that the series broke down everything that went into creating this world, these characters, and a storyline that captivates audiences. In the same way that the Professor could anticipate every move that would be executed by the police, the creators of the series have been able to tap into what audiences will connect with, what they want to see, and what will make this their favorite series.
Here are some of our favorite fun facts from the documentary — SPOILERS from all seasons ahead:
1. The show was a flop
It’s honestly hard to believe that Money Heist didn’t find immediate success in Spain considering how good the series is. According to the documentary, the series started off strong with 4.5 million viewers, but with each passing week, viewership waned until it was down to 2 million.
For that reason, the series was canceled by Spanish channel Antena 3, which explains why season 2 had such a satisfying and fitting ending. Everything was wrapped up with the idea that the series was over and done with. And then Netflix came along and added to series to its list of programming.
Here’s where you learn about the power of word of mouth — Netflix didn’t promote the series at all but somehow (and rightfully so), it began picking up steam. People from all over the world began to discover just how brilliant the Professor was; they connected with a rogue group of robbers on a personal and intimate level. Eventually, Money Heist became the second most-watched series next to Netflix’s mainstay Stranger Things, and, of course, the streaming service was ready to capitalize by reviving the series and proposing the show creators another season. The rest, is, well, history.
In fact, the series is the most viewed Netflix series in France, Italy, Argentina, Chile, Brazil, and Portugal.
2. They consulted real-life experts to make things very realistic
Money Heist doesn’t half-ass anything because the world is so far-fetched that it has to feel real. And it does. You’re completely enveloped in every aspect of the Professor’s plan and often find yourself wondering, “how are they going to pull that off?” The team putting together the series felt the same way and thus, when it came down to plotting how they are going to infiltrate high-security places and what they’re going to be stealing, they decided to consult the real-life experts to get the answers.
Personally, I was in awe of how technical the second heist was from removing the gold from the underwater vault and melting it down. The research included hiring a marine engineer to help with the construction of the antechamber that it used to go into the vault and remove the gold.
When it came to the melting down part, a father-and-son metalworker duo served as advisers on how to properly melt down 90 tons of gold into little pellets that could easily (we use that term loosely) be smuggled out. The experts were even used as extras to ensure the process was done correctly. The only difference is that they used copper instead of gold in the scene since it’s cheaper!
3. There’s a lot of movie magic
You didn’t actually think they used real gold in the underwater scenes, right? There’s plenty of movie magic that goes into bringing the world of Money Heist to life, and a lot of it is fixed in post-production. Take for example the gold, which was just styrofoam coated in a gold color that began to concave after being submerged in water and needed to be edited piece-by-piece, frame-by-frame.
However, there are elements that are truly crafted in a way that keeps everyone on their toes. The team built a set that they then submerged underwater so it would look realistic and make it seem like water was rising once they broke in.
The scene where the blimp flies over Spain at the kickstart of the second heist and all the money falls from the sky really happened, though, it wasn’t real money falling onto hundreds of extras — that would require production to stage an actual heist. The scene may have been minor, but it was necessary to get it just right in order for it to have the desired effect, which meant collecting and throwing the money over and over for several takes as the crew struggled to get it to fly in the right director. Eventually, it began raining and the paper money began melting. Moral of the story is that things go wrong just like in the Professor’s carefully crafted plan.
And the boat scene where the gang reached international waters was not filmed on a chilly and gloomy day. In fact, it was shot during a scorching hot day in the Philippines and everyone was sweating and ready to pass out from the heat. They pulled it off, right!?
4. They take risks
The idea of “no risk, no reward” definitely comes into play here. When you watch the series, you’re constantly on the edge of your seat wondering what’s going to happen next, if the plan will go off without a hitch, and what obstacle will come crashing down on the team. The thrill is a product of the cast and crew’s desire to keep you on the edge of your seat. They wanted to make a series that’s unpredictable, and the only reason to do that is to take big risks with every storyline and every character. We see that with their decisions to kill off beloved main characters because it’s the only way to keep the storytelling authentic.
Which…. leads us right into this next point (see below)!
5. The show is written on the fly
There’s a general plan for the series but unlike the Professor’s carefully thought out and meticulous plans that anticipate every move, the series is written in the “heat of the moment.” That means that very few scripts are written in advance. The writer’s team is always working as the cast is filming to add in scenes, switch up dialogue, or change the direction of the series completely.
If you think about it, it’s kind of brilliant because not only are you unsure of what’s going to happen next since it leaves the actors in suspense, but it allows the characters to react authentically to what is happening.
Obviously, this requires everyone to have their head in the game at all times but also adds a lot of pressure and stress. The show creator Alex Pina says he wakes up and is terrified going into work everyday. Essentially, that’s the anxiety the robbers would be feeling in a real life heist.
6. It has some very famous fans
Plenty of celebrities have jumped into the red jumpsuits and joined the resistance including Stephen King and Brazilian soccer player Neymar, who was so obsessed with the series that he snagged a role in the series as a monk! Who would have thought?
7. The imagery is part of the resistance
When you think of Money Heist, there’s some imagery and symbolism that comes to mind including the red jumpsuits, the Dali mask, and, of course, Bella Ciao. There’s no way you watched the series and didn’t get the song stuck in your head for days on end.
Remember how I said show creators and writers knew what they were doing? Yeah, that was purposeful. The series uses the color red as it is usually associated with blood and passion. Red has become the show’s signature color. The song, which was sung by Italian anti-fascist partisans in World War II, has become the anthem. It was first sung when Moscow hits dirt in the Mint of Spain and the whole cast erupts in a euphoric celebration in season 1.
It’s later juxtaposed with a somber rendition by the Professor and his brother, Berlin, which allows the song to take on new and deeper meaning. It eventually becomes synonymous with being the symbol of the resistance and rebellion against the government. The song is being sung all over the world during protests, riots, and more.
‘Money Heist’ Spinoff Focused on Pedro Alonso’s Character Berlin is Officially In the Works
We’re just mere days away from the final five episodes of Money Heist (La Casa de Papel).
But if you’re in your feels about the series coming to an end on Friday, December 3, we have some news that might just cheer you up!
While we’ll be saying goodbye to our favorite Bella Ciao robbers responsible for the biggest heist in the world, Netflix announced a new series focused on Berlin.
The spinoff will be centered around the beloved character portrayed by Pedro Alonso.
Berlin may have died in Season 2, but such a force lives on in memories and flashbacks.
The spinoff, titled Berlin: A New Series, is set to premiere sometime in 2023.
While no plot has been revealed, it will likely dig into the mysterious life of the electric character.
It also provides some clarity surrounding the flashbacks about Berlin and his son in the first half of season 5 of Money Heist, which puzzled fans as they couldn’t figure out how they fit into the overall story.
As for Alonso, he’s “happy” about the spinoff.
“I am deeply grateful to be able to connect with people all over the world and receive so much love and such a memorable time. We started this series walking into the unknown and we have been winning ever since. You fans are our accomplices and thank you for that,” he said at a fan event celebrating Friday’s premiere.
Money Heist initially premiered in Spain and received a lukewarm reception. After it aired its final episode, Netflix added the two seasons to its international library, and the series took off! The series about Robin Hood-esque criminals became a global sensation spawning three more seasons sponsored by Netflix.
To this day, it’s one of the streaming giant’s biggest shows.
5 Biggest Moments from ‘Money Heist’ Season 5 Volume 1
It’s the beginning of the end for Money Heist, also known as La Casa de Papel.
On Friday, September 3, the Spanish series dropped part 1 of its fifth and final season.
WARNING: spoilers ahead, stop reading if you haven’t seen Money Heist Season 5 Volume 1
The action-packed five episodes find the Professor’s gang trapped inside the Bank of Spain as the CNI, the police, and the army attempted to infiltrate and put an end to one of the most impressive heists in history.
Survival is the name of the game not just for the red jumpsuits but also for the mastermind behind the robbery, the Professor, who has been taken hostage by former police inspector Alicia Sierra, who has gone rogue after having her name tarnished by the people she trusted the most.
We’re breaking down the 5 biggest and most shocking moments from the season below:
1. Tokyo’s Final Hurrah
There was plenty of foreshadowing throughout indicating that Tokyo wasn’t going to survive the season, but her fate was really cemented in a flashback scene with Nairobi (RIP, girl) during which the two chatted about what happens after death. Tokyo explained that she believed that when she died, she would live on in her happiest memory. A lot of emphasis was also placed on elaborating on Tokyo’s journey prior to joining the Professor, her two loves — Rene and Rio, and the fact that joining the heist gave her life a renewed sense of purpose.
After she was shot five times by snipers, she told Manila and Denver to jump down the elevator dumbwaiter while she stayed behind and defended them from Gandia and the rest of the ruthless army. It was an unfair fight as it was several against one, and eventually, Tokyo was overtaken as they shot bullet after bullet into her. As she lay there bleeding out, she looked up at Gandia, who had a gun pointed at her, and smirked as she revealed several grenades strapped to her body. And then… BOOM.
The only thing missing from the scene was Tokyo shouting “for Nairobi” moments before the explosion, but it was clear that this was Tokyo’s revenge on the man that killed her friend.
And sadly, there was no way our beloved narrator could’ve survived that.
Tokyo may have been reckless in previous seasons, but this was her moment of redemption and revenge. As she noted, if her body couldn’t be free, at least her spirit would be. Plus, her death meant that the rest of her team might have a fighting chance at escaping the Bank of Spain alive.
2. Arturo Is Dead
Hopefully… because, at this point, it’s way overdue. There is no character on television more annoying than Arturito. He makes my skin crawl. His ideas are terrible, he’s a nuisance in every possible way, and he keeps trying to make Denver feel inferior. It’s slimy. He also created more problems for the Professor’s crew than any of the government agencies combined.
So, I was the first to champion Stockholm when she had the chance to shoot him. And I agreed with Palermo when he questioned why anyone was wasting precious time and resources trying to save him. He deserved everything that happened to him.
Unfortunately, it’s not confirmed whether or not Arturo actually died. Sure, he was haunting Stockholm as a hallucination, but that was more guilt than a solid confirmation of his death. And knowing Arturito, he somehow survived once they set him free from the Bank of Spain.
3. Helsinki Is Injured
Death and injury is inevitable, especially during a heist where the stakes are so high. Nairobi’s death was gut-wrenching, Tokyo’s death, while badass, was soul-crushing, but now, it’s not looking great for our big teddy bear either.
Helsinki, or as Palermo affectionately call him “Fatty,” was crushed by a two-ton marble column that seriously destroyed his leg. The team banded together in a risky mission to pull him out because cutting his leg off simply wasn’t an option. Sadly, even though he was rescued, it’s not looking too good for him.
An injury that grave seriously limits what he’s able to do. How is he going to escape when he can barely stand up? How is he going to run? And since Stockholm never gave him the morphine he so desperately needed to numb the pain, is he even going to survive?
4. Alicia Sierra’s Baby Is Born
Alicia pulled a fast one on the Professor when she cornered him in his hideout, but then something unexpected (that she definitely should’ve expected) happened: her water broke and she went into labor! While she tried to push through it herself as the Professor, Longrono, and Marseille looked on, when the baby went into a breech position, she had no choice but to cut them loose and allow them to assist. And, of course, the Professor knows how to deliver a baby. What does that man not know how to do?
After what seemed like a a very painful and natural birth, Alicia welcomed a tough baby girl into the world. When the Professor shared the news with his gang, she told Lisbon that she would name her Victoria.
But is Alicia really on Team Professor? She accepted his kindness and seemed to be in awe of how he operates, but that was because of sheer circumstance. She had no choice, especially since Tamayo pinned everything on her publicly. She, like the rest of the Professor’s squad, was a disgraced member of society… the lowest of the low.
However, in one of the final scenes before Tokyo’s untimely death, Alicia says that she’s always going to be there for her daughter before going to the bathroom and hiding scissors (or what appears to be scissors) up here sleeve. Is she planning on killing the Professor and his men and redeeming herself in the eyes of the public? I wouldn’t put it past her, but I sure as hell am upset with all the hospitality she was offered.
5. Berlin Has a Son
This is one of the rogue storylines that we’re totally invested in, but we don’t know how it fits into the bigger picture just yet. Berlin died on Money Heist Season 2, but the writers have found a way to keep him alive in flashbacks. This one, in particular, reveals that he has an adult son named Rafael who is a skilled coder and engineer (thanks to his MIT education that was paid for by his father — a plan clearly set into motion years in advance). Berlin recruits Rafael to join him on one of his epic heists (prior to the events of the Royal Mint in Season 1 and 2) during which they swap real gold artifacts with replicas.
Rafael takes the moral high ground initially, but once he’s caught up in the action, he seems to get a thrill out of his father’s line of work, which leads us to believe that he’s somehow involved in the present-day heist. Rafael clearly also has the hots for his dad’s wife, Tatiana, which is something Berlin isn’t afraid to confront him about. Will that turn into something?
How do you think this storyline plays into what’s happening in the present? Is Rafael a “last resort” when the Professor runs out of plans?
Other Notable Moments
- As his plan unravels, The Professor — the master of illusions — still manages to blackmail Tamayo and hold him by the cajones by threatening to expose his corruption if he doesn’t pull back his troops from entering the Bank of Spain. And how does he have that evidence? Lisbon managed to sneak a listening aide into handcuffs when she released some of the hostages! Beauty and brains! She has definitely earned the nickname Mrs. Professor!
- In a life-or-death situation, Manila tells Denver that she’s always loved him. Denver tries to brush it off because of their friendship, but Manila insists that they talk about it since they might never get another chance. She questions whether Denver is truly happy with Stockholm and reminds him that he’s given up on his dreams to be with her. Denver assures her that he’s grown up and loves Stockholm very much, but Manila doesn’t seem convinced. And it’s possible she may have planted a seed of doubt because when Denver sees Stockholm high out of her mind, he seems upset and angry rather than understanding.
- Which brings us to Stockholm’s problematic decision. After she maybe, possibly, hopefully killed Arturo, the father of her child, and, in her eyes, her child’s only chance at a normal life, she’s flooded with guilt. She keeps hallucinating him in the worst moments. And you better believe the one where he popped out of the dumbwaiter is going to haunt my nightmares for the rest of time. To numb the pain, she decides to shoot some morphine, which doesn’t just feel out of character, but it’s also detrimental to the rest of the group, who is slightly preoccupied fighting for their lives. She is able to find a solution that saves Manila and Denver, but it’s still a concerning turn of events for one of the most grounded characters. What does this mean for her future with Denver?
What did you think of the first half of the season? Do you really think the Professor doesn’t have a plan? How will they get out if they’re surrounded? Does the gold even matter at this point?
Let us know in the comments below.
Money Heist Season 5 Volume 2 drops on Friday, December 3, 2021.
9 Best Spanish-Language TV Shows You Have to Binge Watch on Netflix
One of the best things about Netflix is that it gives you the ability to travel the world.
The streaming giant has a growing library of international titles that make it easy to watch a foreign show or movie with just the click of a button.
There’s just enough drama and excitement in them to keep you on the edge of your seat!
Turn on the written subtitles and enjoy!
La Casa de Papel, as it’s known by its Spanish name, is arguable the most popular series on the list. A group of thieves led by criminal mastermind “The Professor” attempt to pull off the biggest heist in history at the Royal Mint of Spain. And once you learn why they’re doing it, you’ll find yourself on team hiding their faces behind the terrifying Salvador Dali mask. You’re missing out if you haven’t given the series a chance!
Rich kids at an exclusive prep school? Check! A clash between the wealthy students and the working class? Check! A murder mystery that has you guessing until the very last moment? Double check. Elite, a modern-day Gossip Girl, has it all.
Also known as Alta Mar, the murder mystery thriller finds two sisters looking into a series of mysterious deaths on a luxury ship in the 1940s. It’s like a game of “Clue” come to life, only ten times more dramatic.
The Spanish period drama is set in the 20s. It’s a proud day in Madrid, the location of the first national telephone company, as four young women get jobs, which is a statement and representation of the progress being made for women’s equality.
A comedy-drama that’s all about the power of friendship! Valeria, a writer who is having marital issues and writer’s block, turns to her three best friends, Carmen, Lola, and Nerea, for comfort and distraction. There’s nothing like the power of sisterhood.
Somebody Has to Die
Who Killed Sara
In this twisted thriller, Alex is framed for his sister’s murder and spends 18 years in prison planning the perfect revenge. When he’s released, he sets out the find the real killer and seeks retribution on the family that’s responsible.
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