In my quest for bilingualism, I’ve been looking for Spanish TV shows to watch besides the news. And ones that are not characterized by the syllables of tele-nov-ela. Or better known as the otherwise hot and spicy cousin of the hot tamale.
Browsing Hulu Latino did not give me much to choose from. If you are a self-proclaimed guru of Hulu Latino and have found otherwise, please let me know. I was fortunate enough to find the show Isabel, and my life…has…changed.
This is basically a better version of The Tudors. I liked The Tudors, but I basically stopped watching around the time Anne Bolelyn lost her head because it seemed to get over the top from there. In fact, Isabel is actually right before the Tudor Dynasty and features Katherine of Aragon’s mother Isabel I de Castilla. Better known paired with her husband Ferdinand (or as I know him on a first name basis, Fernando) and probably best known for Christobal Colon and the Inquisition. Yikes.
While the latter is probably one of her less than thrilling historical attributes, I was still curious. And I got sucked in. I enjoyed that Isabel was basically practicing feminism in fifteenth century Spain. The raw determination, will power, and utter confidence in her future had me furiously munching Wheat Thins as I clicked for the next episode. By the time the Wheat Thins were gone, I found myself binge-watching three episodes in a row, per day. It got so bad, that I had to stop in the middle of episodes because if I got to the end and saw the teaser at the end, I’d just watch the next one.
Basic throw down of why Isabel is better than the Tudors:
1. Apparently it’s surprisingly historically accurate.
2. Isabel is basically who Run the World (Girls) is about. Who runs the world? Her. I can’t emphasize this enough–this woman took NO prisoners. She was basically born and groomed as a certified badass.
3. The basic story–The Tudors definitely features political motivations but it’s more about a king doing basically anything he wants and having to deal with the consequences. With Isabel, it’s a story about how a girl was supposed to be trapped because of her gender, but overcame that to become a force of nature, and do anything she wants. In comparison, it was interesting to me how much the Church seemed to be involved with or influence political decisions–the amount of papal bulls issued gave me whiplash.
4. Nudity (and by this I mean a refreshing lack of). Thankfully by the middle of the first season or rather after Fernando’s scenes with his mistress the show decided to focus on story instead of sex. And with so many twists and turns, you don’t even miss it. Season 2 barely has any of the annoying “The following is intended only for mature audiences” intros. Por fin!
5. Everything is said in the beautiful Spanish language (but there are subtitles on Hulu for those who require them)
6. That soundtrack (swoon)
7. Rodolfo Sancho. He could get away with murder.
Paired with Michelle Jenner, they are the original power couple. It’s electrifying to watch both of them together and their story lines apart.
8. There are clear motivations for everything the characters do, but characters switch sides at every turn. The motivations creep up on you but there’s no “Let’s chop off someone’s head because I felt like death for breakfast and history says so.” It’s more like (spoiler) “I’m slapping you because you repeatedly slept with someone who is trying to kill me and our child and you were too blind to see it.”
9. Side stories. In Isabel, the side stories are done well while not detracting from the main story. You get to know Gonzalo Chacon, Pacheco, and Carillo almost as if they are as important as Isabel herself (and in some instances, they are). When Fernando is brought into the story, we get to explore some of Aragon and it’s military troubles, Fernando’s relationship with his father. Oh and Portugal is always trying to steal the limelight, which makes for some fun when we are a fly on the wall over there.
10. The costumes, the set, and the food. It was delicious. I drank in all the castles, the robes, the crowns. They added so much to the story. It seemed like there was an authentic touch to it all. With one dish, the peacock feathers alone made my mouth water for a bite. Ah, the awesomeness.
If you like The Tudors, you should basically give Isabel a try. I’m going to re-watch it.