The scene opens on Barceloneta, by the shore, and four girls sit together near the boardwalk, looking out at the beach. The Movistar+ original series “Simple” begins as its title suggests, with a concise portrait of each of the four characters, prominent personality traits on display.
Scripting ebullient women is something Spanish director Anna R. Costa never shies from, molding distinctive characters that permeate their scenes long after their exit. On the heels of her prior work on the Movistar+ sensation “Arde Madrid,” the streamer’s most-binged series after its premiere, “Simple” further proves that diverse female leads are in-demand, though, Costa admits, perhaps on account of their numbers. “In a matter of five years the audiovisual industry has made a strong commitment to the feminine.
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But let’s not forget that we’re fashionable because we’re currency, our topics are interesting because they generate money,” she says. “What’s certain is that the masculine universe is rooted, while the feminine rests in quicksand. There’s still a lack of female characters that show that women have a much broader human arc than men.”
Co-directed by Laura Jou (“Cucut”) and inspired by the acclaimed abstract novel “Lectura Fácil” written by Cristina Morales, the series revolves around the four female rommmates, all of whom have disabilities, and their quest to adjust to the often-ridiculous societal norms imposed upon them.
Costa admits the show was an arduous labor of love, as “anyone who read the novel told me that it was impossible to adapt. Movistar gave me the opportunity. They made a development contract, but almost with the convition that I wasn’t going to get it out.”
She continues: “It’s complex to put yourself in the minds of people who see the world from such a different perspective.” Characters Marga (Natalia de Molina), Patri (Anna Marchesi ), Nati (Anna Castillo) and Angels (Coria Castillo) storm through the banalities of everyday life, from rebellious Nati accessing her repressed love of dance after a run-in with a wild turkey, to the whole group struggling, in vain, to open impossibly sturdy plastic snack packaging.
Reuniting Costa with “Arde Madrid” producer Sandra Hermida (“Biutiful”), the five-episode comedy fuses sardonic humor with Costa’s inherent drive to find the humanity in every scene, the actors having studied the script under those with the same functional diversities they were depicting.
Plotlines, co-written by Christina Pons (“El Cid”), are near valiant in portraying the agency and autonomy of the women as they warm to the selves they’re unraveling, living within their differences rather than merely suffering or tolerating them.
From budgets to boyfriends, setting boundaries and grappling with sexual health issues, each character grows into their role in earnest. In the end, the protagonists navigate a world that, despite all its advancements, still refuses to accommodate them. “We live in a world based on comparison. The smart ones, the handsome, the ugly, and so on. Self-governance is only possible without these comparisons,” Costa says.
“Everyone should be able to meet their needs with respect, without hurting anyone. Hence the title. It’s actually simple at the individuallevel, self-governance; but it’s impossible if you have to be accountable to the state, to your family, to institutions, and to every god,” she continues.
Costa concludes by posing a question: “How on earth has society relegated certain people to the margins based solely on their gender, race, cognition, forcing them into social isolation, challenging and abusing them just so they can reclaim their sense of belonging? Isn’t it easier for all people to be considered first-class beings, to develop according to their own abilities and desires?”
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