Review: Locked Up (Vis a vis), season 1

Maggie Civantos in Vis a vis

Locked Up (Vis a vis) is an addicting Spanish language series on Netflix. It’s a women’s prison story with more twists than a corkscrew.

Locked Up (Vis a vis) stars Maggie Civantos as Macarena Ferreiro. Her story takes us into the prison. She committed some crimes because she was in love with her boss. After she carried millions to him, he ran and left her to take the blame. Maggie Civantos is absolutely brilliant in this role.

Najwa Nimri in Locked Up (Vis a vis)
Najwa Nimri as the villainous Zulema was excellent

Looking ahead, I see that Maggie Civantos appeared in 28 of the 51 episodes in the 4 seasons of the series. However, she is set to be in the spin-off just announced, Vis a Vis: El Oasis, along with the character Zulema (Najwa Nimri) and some of the other favorites.

Season 1 dealt with Macarena getting adjusted to prison life, to Macarena trying to prove her innocence and to a whole lot of trouble caused by Macarena accidentally finding out where €9 million were hidden. Macarena was a naive, trusting, innocent woman. She got into all kinds of trouble, episode after episode, because she did something by accident or was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Because the money was outside the prison, Macarena’s family got involved with Zulema’s boyfriend, aka “The Egyptian” (Adryen Mehdi) in a deadly battle over the cash.

5 Daniel Ortiz and María Salgueiro in Locked Up (Vis a vis)
Román and Encarna try to convince the police they know nothing

Macarena’s brother Román (Daniel Ortiz) and her parents Leopoldo (Carlos Hipólito) and Encarna (María Salgueiro) go to extremes trying to recover the cash, eliminate the Egyptian, prove Macarena innocent, and keep everyone in the family safe. Hot on the trail the entire time was Inspector Castillo (Jesús Castejón).

Berta Vázquez in Locked Up (Vis a vis)
Curly fell hard and fast for Macarena

Curly (Berta Vázquez) wanted to be Macarena’s girlfriend almost the minute she entered the prison. Macarena resisted at first, but after a while the two of them were smooching in Macarena’s bunk and a whole lot of other places, too.

María Isabel Díaz Lago, Roberto Enríquez, Carlos Hipólito, Najwa Nimri, Marta Aledo, Cristina Plazas, Alba Flores, Maggie Civantos, Laura Baena, Inma Cuevas, and Berta Vázquez in Locked Up (Vis a vis)

Let me use this group promo photo to tell you more about the big cast. That’s Macarena’s dad on the left front. Beside him is the guard Fabio (Roberto Enríquez), who – surprise! – also falls in love with Macarena. Next to him is the prison governor (Cristina Plazas). She was a liberal governor at first, until several very bad things happened and she cracked down hard.

The prisoners start on the left with Zulema. Then it’s Anabel (Inma Cuevas), the prison drug dealer. Macarena learned the hard way to pay her debts to Anabel. Next you see Macarena. Above her is Sole (María Isabel Díaz Lago). Sole was a very sweet woman in need of a heart transplant. Curly is behind Sole. Next to Curly is Saray (Alba Flores). Saray took an instant dislike to Macarena because Curly used to be her girlfriend. Next is Antonia (Laura Baena) a rather harmless troublemaker, and finally the drug addict Tere (Marta Aledo).

Not in that promo photo, but an important character in season 1 was Dr. Sandoval (Ramiro Blas). He was so creepy. And, like everyone else, he was in love with Macarena. Except his love was expressed in predatory ways.

The Governor was apparently making a documentary, because one of the features of Locked Up (Vis a vis) was prisoners speaking right into the camera with stories about themselves. The bunch on the stairs in the image were often part of that.

The plot was often unbelievable but the twists and surprises kept me hooked on finding out what would happen next. There were moments of danger, of violence, of love and friendship, of abuse. The characters covered the range of types you might find in a prison among both the prisoners and the guards. The language was down and dirty, befitting the setting. There was a lot of nudity.

Fans of soapy Spanish melodramas (count me as one) will enjoy this series despite its wild plotting moments. Or perhaps because of its wild plotting moments. If you like Orange is the New Black or Wentworth, you’ll see similarities. It is a women’s prison drama. But Locked Up (Vis a Vis) is also its own creation and unique in many ways.

If you pin TV series posters on Pinterest, here’s a good one for you to pin.

Poster for Locked Up (Vis a vis)

Here’s the season 1 trailer from the UK’s channel 4.

Have you see this Spanish language women’s prison drama? Are you as hooked on it as I am?

2 thoughts on “Review: Locked Up (Vis a vis), season 1”

  1. Pingback: Vis a vis: Tvárou v tvár väzenskému životu – K veci

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