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White Lines is a Cocaine-Fueled, Sex Orgy-Filled New Netflix Series

Curated by Claudia Shannon / Research Scientist / ishonest

Des Willie/Netflix

The new Ibiza-set TV seriespremiering May 15 on Netflixis filled with sex, double-crosses, drugs, DJs, and loads of violence. It is one crazy, terribly trashy ride.

Nick Schager

Entertainment Critic

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Considering the cheesy and unsubtle melodrama peddled by White Lines, its amazing that it takes until midway through its fourth episode before someone explains its metaphorical title (hint: it doesnt just refer to cocaine!). Nonetheless, one doesnt need to wait that long for wholesale absurdity to rear its head in this latest series from Money Heist mastermind lex Pina, as the craziness begins early and then continues unabated for most of this Netflix imports 10 roller-coaster installments.

The modus operandi of this immoderate crime saga (premiering May 15) is to pile on the corniness at every turn, and in that respect, it proves to be the sort of twisty-turny streaming offering built for casual, eye roll-inducing binge- watching. Fluffy dogs sniff cocaine sprinkled across a lawn. A madam hosts an Eyes Wide Shut-style orgy. A car chase with police leads to drugs being tossed haphazardly out the window. A man is chained to giant speakers and tortured with deafening sonic blasts that burst his eardrums. An electronica artist fawns orgasmically over Mozart (This overture is savage!). A tough guy murders two drug runners, hoists one up via a boat line, and quips, Hang in there. A young rule-breaker equates, in court, his right to party with abortion and gay rights. And an underworld heir uses a psychotropic frog to deal with his psychological hang-ups, which involve his Oedipal anger at his father and his lust for his mother, who herself has previously screwed her daughters boyfriend.

The setting is Ibiza, and the woman at the center of this madness is Zoe (Laura Haddock), a Manchester College librarian still traumatized by the disappearance of her brother Axel (Tom Rhys Harries) two decades earlier. Axel fled to Ibiza to pursue his DJing dreams, and he accomplished them, becoming a veritable rock star before vanishing (supposedly to India) without a trace. Hurt by this abandonment, Zoe attempted to kill herself, and 20 years later, is now married to her former counselor Mike, with whom she had daughter Jenny (Tallulah Evans). Her old scars are reopened at series outset when Axels body is unearthed on a property owned by the Calafats, whose patriarch Andreu (Pedro Casablanc) has made a fortune from the nightclubs he ownsand in which he permits the sale of narcotics, including by Marcus (Daniel Mays), one of Axels oldest and dearest friends.

Determined to find out what really happened to her brother, straitlaced Zoe takes off to Ibiza, which is depicted as a tropical island wonderland of uninhibited debauchery, and thus exactly the type of place she doesnt fit in. White Lines is the bilingual story of Zoes Nancy Drew-ish investigation into Axels homicide, and as befitting a mystery, it features a raft of characters who are all potential suspects. Marcus is in deep to Romanian drug dealers, as well as coping with lingering feelings for ex Anna (Angela Griffin), whos engaged to Euro hunk George. Marcus and Annas other childhood friend, David (Laurence Fox), has transformed himself from a closeted heroin junkie into a new-age guru. Axels former flame Kika Calafat (Marta Milans) returns to Ibiza unsure of who she wants to be, and is soon dragged into a power struggle over the family empire with her brother Oriol (Juan Diego Botto). That scion, meanwhile, is tormented by his dads lack of faith in him, not to mention his unquenchable desire for his cougar mom Conchita (Beln Lpez).

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Also figuring prominently in White Lines is Boxer (Nuno Lopes), the Calafats brooding, tattooed bouncer/bodyguard, who takes an early harpoon gun shot to the leg courtesy of Zoe and subsequently falls into a forbidden romance with her. The fact that Zoe is married complicates their tryst, and her ensuing dilemma speaks to the series focus on self-actualization through unrestrained indulgence, and the push-pull dynamic between intellect and instinct. Zoe is on a quest to find herself, and that eventually means making lasagna with Boxer at 4 a.m., listening to him expound on the virtues of Jean-Luc Godards Breathless, and having all manner of steamy sex with himfirst in his apartment, and later in the rain and mud atop a grave theyve dug for two men that Boxer killed for totally justifiable badass reasons.

Taking White Lines seriously is impossible, although enjoying its trashiness which also includes a possible gangland war and Zoes controlling cop father Cliffis undermined by the sheer unlikability of so many of its principals. Chief among them is Axel, who in recurring flashbacks to his hedonistic prime comes across as an intolerable narcissistic twerp whose fate was far from a tragedy. Axels awfulness neuters ones engagement with Zoes sleuthing, and so too does Pinas habit of excessively fracturing episodes, both within Zoes present-day action and via cutaways to Axels heyday. At least the show makes Ibiza look like a luxurious fantasy island, replete with shimmering oceans, expansive beaches and plentiful hardbodies eager to get down to sensual business wherever and whenever possible.

Reminiscent of one of those dime-store novels with Fabio on the cover, White Lineslike Zoerarely holds back, even as it wends its way toward a climax in which conservative values (of monogamy, faithfulness, and family) are celebrated, and unbridled extravagance is posited as a gateway to destruction. Its avalanche of ludicrous double-crosses, carnal entanglements and long-buried revelations is matched by performances that are uniformly overcooked, with no scene left wanting for furious outbursts, longing gazes, intense introspection or flashes of violence. No one is doing work that might reasonably be called great here, but everyone is in tune with the general over-the-topness of the proceedings, for better or worse.

White Lines peaks during its eighth episode, when Oriol forces his dysfunctional clan to participate in a grievances-airing therapy session, only to find that the main topic of conversation is his incestuous mommy issue. Compelling these characters to candidly, and comprehensively, discuss and analyze Oriol and Conchitas warped relationship, its a sequence that proves that, for Pinas series, there is no subtext, only blunt, simplistic text. Such obviousness is sometimes amusingly enlivening, and at other times frustratingly juvenile. But its rarely boring, which in the end seems to be the only real goal of this tawdry, titillating affair.

Read more on: thedailybeast, cocaine, sex


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