Okupas (Squatters) is an Argentine TV show made in 2000, it was directed by Bruno Stagnaro and produced by Ideas Del Sur. It's one of the most acclaimed shows from that country, considered by many to be one of the best. It was very successful on it's first run, but re-runs didn't do that well.
Starring Rodrigo De La Serna, Diego Alonso, Franco Tirri and Ariel Staltari, tells the story of Ricardo, one college dropout who lives in his grandmother's shed. His life takes an unexpected turn when his cousin offers him to live in a recently vacated house from her patrimony until she manages to find a buyer.
He accepts, while secretly bringing over his childhood friend Pollo and Pollo's mate Chiqui, the Gentle Giant. Later they all become friends with Walter, a Jerk with a Heart of Gold who is Friend to All Living Things and loves the Rolling Stones. While living in that house, Ricardo decides to delve deeper into this new and risky lifestyle, while reluctantly learning the true meaning of friendship, love and loyalty.
The series has been praised for being an accurate portrayal of urban street life in Argentina, while striking a balance between drama and comedy.
It's well known for having a lot cinéma verité elements in many slice of life scenes (special mention goes to the second episode) with lots of realistic and funny improvised dialogues. Then, reaching the later half of the series, it becomes a crime thriller.
20 years since its first run and after all this time without an official home video release (the only way to watch the show was in You Tube in VHS rips recorded in the early 00's in a very poor quality) the beloved show finally got remasterized and released on Netflix on July 20th, 2021. With a new original soundtrack, since the main reason they never released the series on VHS or DVD is because the copyright for most songs they used from international bands were unaffordable.
Okupas includes examples of these tropes:
- Adult Fear: In Episode 7, Richard receives a threatening letter from Pablo, ironically written as if it were a note from one friend to another. Said letter was sent to his former address where his little sister lives.
- All Girls Want Bad Boys: Clara falls for Pollo. Subverted. That ship sinks as soon as Pollo figures out that he and Clara will never be a serious couple, because, unlike Clara's official boyfriend, he is poor.
Florencia: Can you explain me what happened in your life and what happened with your shyness?
- Inverted with Ricardo when he fails at his attempt to seduce his former college crush by trying to show her that hes not a shy guy anymore.
Ricardo: I was shy?
Florencia: Well, I mean, we were together in the same class during two years and you never said anything about... 'my tits'.
Ricardo: so... what wouldve happened?
Florencia: about what?
Ricardo: If Ive said you something... Would you have given me a chance then?
- An Aesop:
- Try to recognize when a friend is holding your back
- Stay the fuck away from troubles, don't play with fire.
- Violence only leads to violence.
- Your actions ALWAYS have consequences.
- "Brothers (friends) be united"
- Anti-Hero / Unscrupulous Hero: Pollo.
- Ask a Stupid Question...: In The Shielded Eye, Ricardo to a prostitute.Ricardo: Are you working?
Sex Worker: ...
Ricardo: hey, are you mute or what?
Sex Worker: Then don't ask stupid questions. \\
- Attempted Rape: The fourth episode
- Berserk Button: Every character has one, at least:
- Pollo: calling him "negro de mierda" (a racist/classist slur, something like spanish for "fucking nigger")
- Chiqui: implying that he's deliberately seeking people's pity
- Walter: harming animals in front of him
- Peralta and his friends: calling them "bolitas" (a xenophobic slur for bolivian people, since they're not from Bolivia)
- Miguel: Virtually anything that could bother him
- Badass Normal: Pollo
- Beach Episode: The third episode. Altough they're not in the coast of Argentina, the gang is around the Quilmes waterfront.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Miguel
- Pablo acts this way towards Ricardo in Episode 4.
- Bittersweet Ending: The third episode El Ojo Blindado (The Shelded Eye). The gang returns home, Ricardos still feeling kinda bad because of the heavy cocaine induced discomfort, but this seems to be the first approach of their friendship. Of course, then we got Clara knocking the door, but the sweetness is still there.
- Black Comedy: Lots of it.
- Blatant Lies: Ricardo when the cops are asking about Miguel's whereabouts. Walter magnifying his life experiences with a ridiculously arrogant tone.
- Bowdlerise: In the Netflix version of the show there's an omission of a joke said by one of the characters. In the third episode, when they're trying the cocaine, Walter says "¡Cagamos, llegó el Bambino! Todos con el culo en la pared" ("Fuck, Bambino is here, everybody put your asses agains the wall") in allusion to ex-soccer player Bambino Veira, who sexually abused a 13 years-old boy in 1987. Said omission was probably to avoid any kind of controversy.
- Breather Episode: The sixth one, "Los Mantenidos". Episodes 4 and 5 were a thrilling ride. Episode 6 is like the eye of the storm and from Episode 7 ("Paranoia"), things start to get really dangerous.
- Brilliant, but Lazy: Pollo seems to fit in this. Maybe hes not what youd call a bright person, since he left school at 12, but he actually implemented a pretty intelligent plan to ambush Pablo, and had everything under control like a boss. too bad he did not anticipate that La Turca would realize that the whole "robbery-plan" was nothing more than an ambush for Pablo and that she would tell him, which triggered the tragedy at the end of the series.
- British Brevity: One season, eleven episodes.
- Broke Episode: This is actually a broke show...
- Captain Obvious: Ricardo tells to a prostitute "we're going to fuck you!".
- Cliffhanger: Every episode. Special mentions goes to episodes 8 and 10.
- Cluster F-Bomb: Everytime.
- Cult Soundtrack: The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Jimmi Hendrix, The Who, Sui Generis, Sumo, Almendra, Pescado Rabioso, The Doors, among others.
- Cycle of Revenge: 5th and 11th episodes respectively.
- Darkest Hour: The last scene of the last episode.
- Deadpan Snarker: Pollo and Walter.
- Died in Your Arms Tonight
- Downer Ending: In the final showdown between the four main and the Pablos band, one of them shoots Chiqui to death. Chiqui ask their friends to carry him to the house, so he can die there. Chiqui dies in the arms of his best friends.
- Dramedy: Altough most of the things that happen in this show are Played for Drama, the fans also remember it for having a lot of funny moments and some hilarious discussions and dialogues between the characters.
- Even Evil Has Standards: The speech that Claudio Rissi's character gives to Ricardo in the fifth episode.
- After Ricardo fails at his attempt of robbing the wedding ring of some random guy in the street, Miguel gives him an interesting advice about stealing: Do you know why you failed?. Because you didnt hear me; You looked at him. Whenever you steal some guy, you cant look at his eyes, because if you do, you feel sorry for him.
- Pablo is one of the most despicable characters in the show, still he would never leave a friend behind and he seems to feel geniunely bad about La Turca being in jail while he's free.
- A somewhat absurd example: Pablo rebukes his mule for saying a dirty comment about La Turca's mother. He should show some respect because "her daughter is in jail".
- Evil Old Folks: The creepy old lady at Episode 4 when Richard appears in the Docke with Pablo and his gang. The mysterious old lady is witnessing the whole scene and her aura makes her look like she knows what's going to happen...
- False Friend: Miguel
- Friend to All Living Things: Walter
- Four-Man Band
- The Smart Guy: Pollo
- The Normal Guy: Ricardo
- The Pervert: Walter
- The Big Guy: Chiqui
- Gilligan Cut: In the second episode, Ricardo is talking to his cousin on her office about how well he's taking care of the house and respecting the rules. Cut to Chiqui breaking the glass of one of the windows playing ball with Walter.
- Girl Next Door: Sofía for Ricardo.
- Group Hug: an extremely sad one when Chiqui dies at the last episode...
- Hypocritical Humor: Walter and Peralta are this trope.
- Incredibly Lame Pun: Chiqui: "Me siento estofado" (instead of "Me siento estafado", that would be "I feel cheated" in english, so it would be "I feel stew"...)
- Instrumental Theme Tune: "Final" from Axel Krygier's album "Secreto y Malibú"
- Ironic Episode Title: the last episode is called Goodbye and good luck.
- It's Personal: Claudio Rissis character to Pablo when he broke a glass bottle in his head.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Walter
- Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: Pablo and Miguel
- Kill the Cutie: Chiqui and Severino
- Loser Protagonist
- Nobody Poops: Averted... sometimes hilariously
- Nostalgia Filter: in the eight episode, Ricardo visits the university he used to attend. This scene makes a contrast between that world Ricardo left behind, in wich he seemed to have a future and his new almost-criminal life. Not really a sad scene, but the nostalgic feeling is still there.
- In the tenth episode Ricardo is watching "Space Jam" and "Pokemon: The First Movie".
- Oh, Crap!: In the fourth episode, Ricardo is looking for Pollo, so he went to Pablos house (in the dock). Pablo invites him to come in, in a really friendly way. The the night came, and Ricardo suddenly realizes that Pablo and his roomates all this time were just faking being nice, only to rape him.
- Only Known by Their Nickname: Chiqui. Also we only know Peralta by his last name.
- Ordered Apology: In the last act of the fifth episode, Ricardo forces Pablo to apologize for what he did to him in the previous episode.
- Perpetual Poverty
- Power Walk: Pollo as can be seen here at minute 11:10
- Racist Grandma: Ricardos
- Rape (Attempt) And Revenge
- Pyrrhic Victory: Pablo, the leader of the antagonistic gang and the show's Big Bad is ultimately killed by Ricardo in the last showdown. So they successfully avenged Walter's dog ... unfortunately this leads to Chiqui's death at the hands of Pablo's mule/subordinate
- Roaring Rampageof Revenge: After the Pablos gang kills Severino, they decided to take revenge. And everything went just worse...
- Russian Roulette: In the ninth episode Pablo wanted to test Pollo, to see if hes still being the same. Pablo putted a bullet onto an empty gun to play russian roulette with Ricardo. Pablo gave Pollo the gun in order to kill Ricardo. Pollo carefully deviates the gun marksmanship to miss the shot. Luckily, Pablo and his henchman didnt realize this and the bullet didnt came out from the gun.
- "Shaggy Dog" Story: A tragic example with Ricardo's entire character arc regarding his attempts to become a fearless criminal. He even shaves his head and it seems like Miguel truly considers that he has the potential to make him a partner in crime, and for a brief moment, we're lead to believe that Ricardo is actually breaking bad... well, although Miguel did teach him some things, is revealed at the end of the penultimate episode that Miguel tried to use him as a scapegoat and Ricardo stayed no more than a minor harmless thief... and for the worse; Ricardo's revenge against Pablo (caused by his sense of humiliation) is what triggers the final tragedy, leaving his character arc, not only tragic, but almost pointless
- Shoot the Dog: The last episode.
- Smoking Is Cool: Pollo makes it look this way in many instances.
- Soundtrack Dissonance: Many of the iconic moments of the show happens thanks to this trope, some examples:
- In Episode 4 there's a thrilling persecution scene, involving shootings, while it sounds a quiet religious choral song called "Quanti Martiri ha Potuto Passare". Said song is part of a 1993 compilation album of varios classical/folk religious songs called "Sicily: Music for the Holy Week"
- In the sixth episode, Ricardo forces three musicians to play the fifth symphony of Mahler in a public bathroom. On the next scene, the music is still playing, and we see Ricardo, Chiqui, Pollo and Walter running away after robbing a store.
- Ricardo desperately running away from the police while sounding "Because" from The Beatles.
- The endlessly sad final montage (Chiqui's burial). This scene unfolds while the romantic song "My Girl" by The Rolling Stones is playing.
- Stoners Are Funny: Chiqui and Walter.
- The Power of Friendship: One of the main themes on this show.
- Titled After the Song: The second episodes called "Bienvenidos al Tren" ("Welcome to the Train"), named after a Sui Generis song and the third episode is called El Ojo Blindado (The Shielded Eye), which is titled after a Sumo song.
- Title Drop: Happens frequently
- In the first episode when Clara tells Ricardo about the five commandments, the title can be seen at the back of her card, written by her.
- At the beach in the third episode when Ricardo sings "El Ojo Blindado"
- The fourth episode Walter comments that Ricardo gave Pollo the kiss of Judas
- In the fifth episode Ricardo calls Pablo "Mascapito" several times
- A dialogue between Ricardo and Sofia in the sixth episode. Ricardo tells her that he used to have a band called "Los Mantenidos"
- The tenth episode is quite easy since is named after a recurring character
- In the last episode, Peralta greets Ricardo wishing him goodbye and good luck.
- Took a Level in Jerkass: Ricardo in Episodes 3 and 10.
- Took a Level in Kindness: Walter in later episodes towards Chiqui.
- Almost every character (even Clara) to each other in the first act of the last episode.
- Wham Line: Episode 4, once Pablo says this, Richard finally understands what's coming to him:Negro Pablo: Do you suck or not? Tell me straight!
- What the Hell, Hero?: Is almost impossible to not grow fond of the main four characters (at least, most of them) but since this is a neorealistic show about the street life in Argentina when the country was in a very bad place, with a heavy dose of realistic dialogues and situations, all of the characters (even Chiqui, the nicest one) will have their moments of really questionable behavior.
- Special mention goes to the second episode where Chiqui, Walter and Pollo cruelly mistreat and discriminate a guy who has AIDS. Then they proceeded to make very distasteful comments about it, much to Ricardo's horror.
- Ricardo and Walter on the third episode are at their most jerkass. From harrasing random women on the street, stealing just for the sake of annoying to being real assholes to Chiqui and talk on his back. In their defense they were under the effects of cocaine, at least on defense of Richard, that was his first time and was on a cocaine rush.
- You Talkin' to Me??: A variant. Walter in the fourth episode. Well, hes not in front of a mirror, but when Pollo gave him a gun, he really got excited and started talking alone, really loud, asking ¿Quién es el más poronga en este conventillo de mierda?, which could be translated as whos the fuckin boss in this shithole, huh?. Only to feel badass. (This is one of the most famous scenes)