Walter Iuzzolino’s series on Channel 4 – Walter Presents – selects the most popular, critically acclaimed television dramas from around the world, allowing anyone with a laptop and Wi-Fi in Britain to falsely feel like they are cultured through watching handpicked shows (such as Spain’s Locked Up to Belgian black-comedy thriller The Out-Laws) for free on Channel 4’s streaming service All 4.
Each week Sinead McCausland will be reviewing a new show that the titular Walter has selected, hopefully encouraging more fans of world drama TV shows that aren’t American. Here are her thoughts on the Locked Up.
Dubbed the Spanish Orange is the New Black, and with a tagline that references this (‘yellow is the new black’), Locked Up deserves just as much worldwide recognition as its American counterpart. Created by Iván Escobar, Esther Martínez Lobato, Álex Pina and Daniel Écija, Locked Up (or Vis-à-Vis as it’s known in Spain), follows the downfall of seemingly innocent Macarena Ferreiro (played by Maggie Civantos) as she gets sent to seven years of prison due to being – as far as the audience knows – framed by her boss whom she was having an affair with.
The cinematography in the show plays a big part in its addictiveness, as Migue Amoedo and Javier Castrejón’s work allows audiences to be familiar with quite a complex setting, the setting of the prison. By becoming familiar to the yellow railings that line the giant halls of the high-security private prison, along with the juxtaposing highly exposed shower room and creepy, cramped and almost claustrophobic office of Doctor Sandoval (Ramiro Blas), we’re able to become more and more familiar with this world as Macarena does too. The word ‘world’ is not accidental here, either, as the way the series is shot cleverly creates a different shift in tone and atmosphere when filming from the outside and from the inside, with the colour grading and lighting between these contrasting worlds often questioning which side is safer.
Aside from the cinematography and world building, it is the acting and character development what makes Locked Up so special, and it’s here where the show differs to Orange is the New Black. While the American Netflix original series is categorised predominantly under the comedy genre, Maggie Civantos has stated herself that Locked Up is a prison thriller, a thriller which the audience are taken along on with Civantos’ character. By going on this journey with her, we meet protective prison guards, characters who are as guilty as (if not more than) the criminals, distressed parents who choose to become criminals, and evil characters that have a reason for being evil, making them more real, more sympathetic, and more terrifying. Through this, we witness the innocent main character go from being in-denial about her crime and afraid of the world with which she’s been forced into, to willing to kill anyone who gets in her way.
Locked Up will present you not only with a new world, but a new world of characters. The series will leave you questioning how far you would go to reach freedom, what you would have to treasure so much that you’d be willing to kill – and die – for it, and when the next series is.