Sex, drugs, polyamory, bribery, coming out, HIV, and murder are just a few of the plot points in Netflix's latest high-stakes original series, Elite.
After their public school mysteriously collapses, three students from the poor side of town are given scholarships to attend Las Encinas, the exclusive private school for the children of Spain's wealthiest residents. But as Samuel, Nadia, and Christian clash with the elite students who resent their intrusion, they set off a series of events that ends in the murder of one of their new classmates.
Christian, the fast-talking ladies man, quickly sets his eyes on Carla, a girl who's used to getting what she wants. Even though she's dating her longtime boyfriend Polo, Carla entertains Christian's flirtations until ultimately hooking up with him at a party. But what begins as another aggressively cliched heterosexual exchange promptly turns into an unconventional love triangle. While Carla's underneath Christian, she smiles knowingly at Polo watching from across the room.
The kink of a couple bored rich kids escalates into a ménage à trois; Carla lets Christian have her way with her while whispering sweet nothings in Polo's ear and, even though they're a bit hesitant at first, Polo and Christian let themselves explore one another. But as Polo tells Carla he loves her, he can't stop sneaking glances at Christian.
Polo juggles his jealousy with desire and plots to simultaneously keep his relationship with Carla together while trying to steal Christian away for himself, which lead to conversations about sexuality and polyamory and the stigmas around throuples that will ultimately lead to destruction.
We also meet Ander, the steely-eyed tennis star with daddy issues, and Omar, Nadia's older brother who hides his drug dealings from their traditional Muslim father to support their family. The two first meet when Ander buys some pills, then again when they unknowingly chat each other up on a Grindr-like dating app. When they meet up and recognize each other, Omar flees and prays that Ander won't tell anyone.
However much they initially try to resist, Ander and Omar get swept up in each other and we get to see their whirlwind romance and with it, two sides of the coming out experience. Ander is used to the path of the least resistance when it comes to his tennis-obsessed father, who won't rest until his son has some championships under his sleeve. When he does come out, he seems to already know his family and friends are going to accept him. (His father's biggest concern is that they can spin it so Ander can be the first openly gay tennis player to win the French Open.) Omar, however, is terrified of upsetting his conservative family's delicate balance and when he's outed to his father, he flat out denies it. His dad then sets out to squash the rumor by arranging a marriage to the girl down the street.
The two boys' experiences are radically different. As OUT points out, the show "shed a light on the disparities of gay people’s coming out experience based on their religious and socio-economic backgrounds."
And the queerness doesn't stop there. Elite does some major work to destigmatize HIV, which still heavily impacts the gay community. Marina, the daughter of one of the wealthiest people in town, contracted the virus from an ex-boyfriend when she was fourteen. She falls for Samuel, the doe-eyed new kid, and when she tells him of her status, it rolls off his back. Nothing changes in their relationship. The show even goes into detail about what it means to be undetectable (when treated properly, HIV is untransmittable) and sparks a conversation about whether someone who is undetectable should tell you their status before having sex. While sensationalized for television drama, Marina's diagnosis is handled delicately and beautifully and will hopefully start some important conversations about prejudices that not only the gay community should be talking about.
Elite is a sexy, forward-thinking, eye-opening, thrilling 8-episode rollercoaster ride of emotions with a satisfying ending that'll have you clamoring for another season. It might also make you want to move to Spain for a tragic love story of your own.
Watch the trailer for Elite in the video below!