Opinion: Netflix’s hit series Money Heist has a deeper meaning

By Farah Bassyouni Feb4,2022
Salvador Dalí mask as featured in Money Heist
Salvador Dalí mask as featured in Money Heist Image from Wiki Commons

Right when the first episode begins, Spanish television series Money Heist will grab your attention and lead to some serious binge-watching. The Emmy Award-winning show ingeniously crafted by Álex Pina, consists of five seasons, with roughly 10 episodes per season. Although it may seem like your typical action-packed series, I believe there is actually more meaning than is accounted for by viewers.

Taking place mainly in Madrid, the show features a group of criminals scheming to commit the most extravagant heist in history: robbing the Royal Mint of Spain. The ring leader, who is referred to as The Professor, formulates a brilliant plan that accounts for every possible outcome. Not only does he closely study the life of nearly every hostage that would be in the Royal Mint on the day of the heist, but he also has already studied the law enforcement’s protocols for the situation and had anticipated their every move. 

Although at the surface the show may just seem like a crime thriller with a few mentions of defiance here and there, it is really so much more than that. I suspect that the deeper message and multiple examples of symbolism may fly right over some viewers’ heads. 

The song played at many significant moments throughout the show is titled, “Bella Ciao.” This is an Italian protest song that originally was sang by field workers, but was then adopted by and accompanied the antifacist movement in Italy. It has also been used as an anthem signifying freedom among many other groups. Colombian government protests, United Kingdom demonstrations following their withdrawal from the European Union and even economic inequality protests in France have all utilized this song. 

It also was used in a viral video back in 2019 in support of Italy and those who were hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. In this video, neighbors can be seen belting the song off of their balconies in harmony. As a symbol of freedom and resistance, it is no surprise that this song is played so often in the show. 

Another form of evident symbolism is the red jumpsuits and Dali masks that the robbers wear themselves and force their hostages to wear. The color red has a plethora of meanings from courage, to revolution and even blood. As for the masks, Dali was the face of the Surrealist Movement in the early 1900s, which revolved around rebellion and the breaking of norms. 

So what exactly are these symbols here for and what are they “resisting”? You may have an idea, considering the fact that the show revolves around money. The Professor tells the group of robbers that they are trying to combat the socialism and inequality that they believe takes place in the country. They claim that they are not harming anybody by robbing the bank, but are robbing the unjust “system” instead. In fact, during one of their robberies they released 140 million euros into a crowded city area for the public to collect. 

The show was wonderfully crafted with charming characters and relatable plot lines, all of which kept me watching nonstop. If you are hoping for a new show to get enamored with that contains more meaning than just surface level violence, I think this is the one for you.

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