Yany Prado, Lali Espósito and Verónica Sanchez as Gina, Wendy and Coral in ‘Sky Rojo’ (Photo credit: … [+]
Netflix NFLX +1.5% is releasing the much-anticipated new series, Sky Rojo, from the creators of the highly popular Money Heist on March 19. Starring Argentine superstar Lali Espósito, Spanish actress Verónica Sanchez and Cuban actress Yany Prado, Sky Rojo is a flamboyantly frenetic, crudely violent and explicit race across the Spanish island of Tenerife.
With only eight episodes, each around 25-minute long, Sky Rojo is a fast-paced action thriller, following three sex workers, Coral, Wendy and Gina, on the run from their pimp Romeo and his henchmen Moisés and Christian. The series was created by Álex Pina and Esther Martínez Lobato, creators of Money Heist, which quickly became Netflix’s most popular non-English language series, until it was dethroned by the French series Lupin. After the huge success of Money Heist (La Casa del Papel), and the popular White Lines, Netflix appears to have given free-reign to the creators for Sky Rojo, greenlighting a second season before even airing the first one.
If you are a fan of Quentin Tarantino’s films, such as Pulp Fiction or Death Proof, there is a strong chance you will enjoy Sky Rojo and its style that feels like a rollercoaster explosion of violence. Sky Rojo overflows with plot twists, uncovering the many mysteries that led these three women in the line of work they find themselves in, and takes a frank look at the dire business of prostitution in Spain.
Asier Etxeandia as Romeo in ‘Sky Rojo’ (Photo credit: Tamara Arranz/Netflix)
Sky Rojo begins as a fast-paced run. On the island of Tenerife, Coral, Wendy and Gina work as exotic dancers and sex workers at Club Las Novias, owned by Romeo, played by Asier Etxeandia (Pain and Glory). When Gina is attacked by Romeo in his office, Coral and Wendy run to her defense. A fight ensues between the pimp and the three women, until Coral hits him on the head. The three women escape from the club, leaving Romeo for dead. Here begins Coral, Wendy and Gina’s infernal run from the shackles of prostitution.
Much like Money Heist and White Lines, Sky Rojo is driven by voice-over narration. On this occasion, the series seamlessly weaves together the voice-overs of Coral, Wendy and Gina, each with their own distinctive Spanish language accent. Images of the women’s run from Romeo’s henchmen Moisés and Christian, played by Miguel Ángel Silvestre and Enric Auquer, are intertwined with the women’s stories of how they ended up working at the club and various flashbacks. This creates an interesting dynamic to the show, especially in the moments when the women’s experiences are contrasted with Romeo’s many monologues, interspersed throughout the episodes, that feel like TED Talks on how to hold a brothel business, spewing his views on how to profit from prostitution.
Lali Espósito, Verónica Sanchez and Yany Prado in Netflix’s ‘Sky Rojo’
The strength of this series lies in the lead characters and the actors’ performances. Asier Etxeandia, Miguel Ángel Silvestre and Enric Auquer are brilliant as the bad guys viewers will love to hate. But it is Verónica Sanchez, Lali Espósito and Yany Prado who are particularly excellent as Coral, Wendy and Gina respectively, each convincingly delving into their characters. Each portray very different women. Sanchez’s Coral is a confident woman, addicted to powerful anesthetics, who hides a mysterious past, which the series isn’t in too much hurry to reveal. Espósito’s Wendy appears tough, but is really a loyal and tender friend. She tells Coral she became a prostitute out of love for her girlfriend, who ended up dumping her. Prado’s Gina, in contrast with Coral and Wendy, appears naïve. Gina’s story is one of human trafficking. Lured with the promise of a waitressing job that would provide for her son and mother, Gina arrived from Cuba, was forced into prostitution and kept captive, like all the other women in the brothel.
Watching the episodes of the series unfold, I kept thinking of Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof. There is a certain style, in the frenetic editing during the crudely violent action sequences, that resonate with Tarantino’s film, echoing the exploitation cinema genre. The film and the series are very different, but both address violence against women. With its neon lights, car chases, brutal fights, and explicit violent sex scenes, Sky Rojo appears on the surface a frivolous exploitative narrative. But, as the series quickly unravels, it becomes clear that the series is more than just car chases, as it denounces the business of prostitution and human trafficking in Spain—the country which “has the highest prostitution rate in Europe,” as the series tells its audience through Romeo.
I am a film historian, interested in the history and theory of cinema, as well as the technology behind the making of films. I specialize in European cinema, in