Bulletin of Contemporary Hispanic Studies

Exporting Spanishness: The Role of Netflix in Shaping How the World Imagines Spain

Bulletin of Contemporary Hispanic Studies (2020), 2, (2), 143–160.


The worldwide leader in streaming television, Netflix exercises significant influence over what viewers watch through algorithms and the shaping of communities based on a set of culturally determined preferences, or ‘taste communities’. Furthermore, its reputation for producing noteworthy and boundary-pushing original television content creates the expectation that Netflix will follow a similar path in Spain, where viewers represent diverse backgrounds. This essay argues that as a company based in the US creating original shows for broadcast to a global audience, Netflix sidesteps many of the thorny issues surrounding contemporary Spanish national identity and the country’s multicultural ‘ethnoscape’ to focus on genres and storylines that have proved successful on the platform. In this way, the streaming company offers locally produced content that appeals to existing global taste communities. Their made-in-Spain original dramas - Las chicas del cable, La casa de papel and Élite - present common themes such as socio-economic inequality, social mobility and female friendship, and settings that resonate with a local audience while remaining accessible and relevant globally. In this way, Netflix influences how Spain is portrayed to a global audience while maintaining a local presence.

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Élite/Elite. 2018 -, created by Carlos Montero and Darío Madrona (Zeta Ficción, Netflix, Netflix VOD). Google Scholar

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La casa de papel/ Money Heist. 2017-, created by Álex Pina (Atresmedia, Vancouver Media, Netflix VOD). Google Scholar

Las chicas del cable/ Cable Girls. 2017-2020, created by Ramón Campos, Gema R. Neira and Teresa Fernández Valdés (Bambú Producciones, Netflix VOD). Google Scholar

Mad Men. 2007-2015, created by Matthew Weiner (AMC). Google Scholar

Velvet. 2013-2016, created by Ramón Campos and Gema R. Neira (Bambú Producciones, Netflix VOD). Google Scholar

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