I started watching the series without expecting too much, which can sometimes soften the blow if a series turns out to be crap. In this case, the blow lands with full force.
Let’s start from the beginning (this article contains spoilers). Zoe is an English girl who travels to Ibiza to discover the truth about the death of her brother Axel, who has been murdered. So far, so good. It’s hard to screw things up in the first five minutes. Things get complicated when we are introduced to Axel: he’s a DJ (of course), addicted to every drug known to man (of course) and he’s also the driving force behind his friend’s addictions His character couldn’t be more clichéd if they tried.
Zoe’s story is a bit more rounded: she seems to be a devoted sister who comes to the island with her husband and daughter to discover the truth, but we quickly discover that craziness runs in the family. Her plot becomes so entangled that by the third episode you completely lose interest in her.
Then there’s a girl who organizes orgies in a villa, a family from Almeria that owns nine clubs on the island, an ex-heroin addict, Axel’s ex-girlfriend who seems to have been born yesterday and a bouncer who gets involved with Zoe after she sends her family back to England. Suffice to say it is a complete mess.
There is also the surprising fact that 95% of the series is shot in Mallorca. Film permits in Ibiza are not obtained overnight, and the producers have logically looked for similar options, but that does not justify not even trying to conceal the fact. There is a scene in which several of the characters are at the entrance of a club, and its name, Tito’s, (the legendary Mallorcan discotheque) is clearly visible. If you are going to talk about one place and film in another, then at least be careful not to let this be seen. Not to mention the architecture seen in the series: the typical Ibizan pagesas (country houses) are not ostentatious, unlike the Mallorcan possessió (stately homes) with their arches and imposing stone structures that are constantly seen throughout the show.
White Lines borrows from other successful series on Netflix, HBO and Prime such as Narcos, Succession and Money Heist for example. Everything’s thrown into the blender and let’s see what comes out. If you don’t know how to mix the ingredients, it’s hard to get a good smoothie. What you get is a sticky mess that’s hard to digest, which is somewhat of a surprise as it was produced by Álex Pina, creator of the acclaimed Money Heist and writer and producer of The Serranos and Paco’s Men, two of Spain’s most beloved series. Anyone can make a mistake, to err is human after all, but this is such a disaster that it threatens to overshadow his previous work.
Sometimes we think that success breeds success, but the reality is that only quality guarantees, at least, prestige. If this is lost then success is just about money, even if you produce the series with the team behind The Crown (winner of Emmys and Golden Globes).
But what is most annoying, and what pisses off anyone who really knows the island (and I’m not talking about an occasional visit to Ushuaia during the summer), is the damage it causes to the ‘Ibiza’ brand. The series is among the worldwide top trending series on Netflix but it devalues the island and presents an absurdly unreal image.
I live in Ibiza and although I am from Asturias in the north of Spain, this island is now my home. It is a light-filled place that is full of friendly, warm and easy-going people. There are people of many different nationalities who felt at home and laid down their roots here, co-existing with the island’s natives. It has been a cradle and refuge for artists for many decades, a bohemian island of free love with its infinite sunsets at Las Puertas del Cielo, the historical beauty of Dalt Vila, the mysticism of Es Vedrá, table talk that stretches into the night and white houses that speak of Mediterranean simplicity. Sandwiches in Santa Gertrudis, Rock Nights on Thursdays at Pikes, cocktails in Paradise Lost, treasure hunts at the Sant Jordi market on Sundays, matança rice in Cas Pagés and bullit de peix in El Bigotes, Cala Mastella.
Even if you don’t know about the aforementioned topics, it doesn’t give you the right to regurgitate cheap clichés and stereotypes about an Ibiza that has nothing to do reality and is just a cheap thrill for summer partygoers who know nothing about the island.
For years Ibiza has carried a stigma that does not represent the genuine authenticity of the island. It has suffered a massive collapse in international tourism due to the pandemic and to top things off this series comes along and creates a false image of this beautiful place. It’s enough to make you laugh and cry at the same time.
If you’re going to create a storyline that takes place in Ibiza and you’re going to use its name then at least film on the island, but above all, get to know it first.