Cuentame Como Paso
(transl: tell me how it happened) is a Spanish soap opera that ran between 13th September 2001 and —-2009 on RTVE 1. I t ran for 10 series initially then, after a brief break, came back for an 11th series after its immense popularity. Famous for being quite witty, with occasional dry, dark humour more in common with British TV.
The entire thing, all 11 series, is one enormous Flashback
belonging to Carlos Alcantara, and it follows his life growing up in The Sixties
and The Seventies
during the decay of the Franco regime and the Transition to democracy. Edutainment Show
, mix of macro and micro history: the big events of the time (the lunar landings, the assassination of Carrero Blanco, Franco’s death,
(whoops)) and this typical middle class Madrid family’s story, narrated soap- opera style and with voiceovers from adult Carlos.
It’s all deliciously sepia- tinged and has the remarkable effect of making you nostalgic for the seventies, even if you weren’t there!
One of the best aspects of it is its epic
music. Note: It’s not a musical (yet)
but simply plays four or five songs from the era each episode. Heaven for pop music geeks.Cuentame
can safely be considered to be a family show; good ol’ pure nostalgia for parents/grandparents (anyone over fifty) providing them with a nice long sesh in which they can bitch about the Franco regime they experienced, and for the kids a dramatized,
definitely exaggerated insight into how their parents may have lived back in the Good Old Days. This is combined with either “I’m so glad I didn’t live back then” or “I so wish I could have lived back then”!
So basically little Carlitos is growing up in exciting times. He’s the youngest child initially
of a hardworking, despairing father, and "absolutely perfect" mother, with a hippie Cool Big Sis
, a communist brother
, and a lovely
Catholic gran. And don’t forget his fleet of flare-wearing friends.
Here are some of its tropes:
- Badass Preacher- Padre Froilán
- Catch Phrase:
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome- The Series is normally good at keeping track of its Loads and Loads of Characters but there are a few examples such as Jose Luis and his sister and more surprisingly Maica
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: Don Pablo especially comes to mind.
- Dawson Casting- averted! They decided to jump forwards in time five or so years, resulting in the actor playing Carlitos having to ‘’play a teenager older than his actual age’’. Whoah.
- Played Straight in the case of Luis.
- Doomed by Canon- The writers of the show are constrained by the real history of Franco's time Spain
- Dream Sequence- appear periodically. Often incredibly cool/ scary/ funny, sometimes all at once! They give the show a wacky surreal feel, much complemented by the hippy music.
- Eurovision Song Contest- it starts in April 1968, with the victory in the Eurovision song contest of the singer Massiel
- Freud Was Right- Carlos and his friends have a phase when they apply this to everything. Well, they are teenage boys.
- Hooker with a Heart of Gold
- Knight In Sour Armour- Antonio, bless him.
- Loads and Loads of Characters
- Mental Affair- Elisa and Antonio.
- Product Placement- Brilliantly done by showing the characters seeing on TV the real adverts used by the sponsoring brands at the time of the setting.
- Straight Gay: Paqui’s first boyfriend.
- The Sixties
- The Seventies
- They Changed It, Now It Sucks- the theme tune, arguably.
- The Woobie- Josete is sometimes played as the In-Universe Woobie
- Writing Around Trademarks- the original name of the show was just “Cuentame”, but due to copyright reasons (there’s a song, in fact the title song which is called that), so it became "Cuentame Como Paso".