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White Lines

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What it’s about:

After the body of Manchester DJ Axel Collins is found in Spain, 20 years after his disappearance, his sister Zoe travels to the island of Ibiza to get answers. Her investigation takes us back and forth between wild 90s flashbacks to Axel’s rock star life to present day debauchery, organized crime, and cover-ups, revealing the shadowy side of the White Isle…and threatening to draw in the married, straight-laced Zoe.

Names you might know:

The series comes from two of Netflix’s most successful producers, Money Heist creator Álex Pina and the producers of The Crown.

It stars Laura Haddock (Guardians of the Galaxy) as Zoe and Daniel Mays (Good Omens, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) as Marcus, Zoe’s brother’s best mate.

Why it’s worth your time:

This much happens just in the first episode:

A father drags a banana boat filled with cocaine across a Kelly green lawn, leaving several fluffy white powder stripes behind. Revelers are served more of the same on silver platters. A pool of naked bodies blur together in a masked orgy. A torrential storm exposes a dessicated body.

The dead body sets in motion the darker mystery. Axel (Tom Rhys Harries) was a well known DJ from England who disappeared from Ibiza two decades earlier, and the discovery prompts his staid sister Zoe to leave her husband behind to travel to the island to find answers. She meets up with Marcus, one of her brother’s closest friends, who became a drug dealer…but only to win back his ex-wife Anna (she started running high-end sex parties, and the drug-dealing was synergistic; this is a show called White Lines, after all).

Marcus can think of several people on the island who had motive to kill Axel, of course, and each of them gets the flashlight treatment. Adding to the intrigue: Axel’s body was found on property owned by the Calafats, the crime family that owns most of Ibiza’s clubs — and takes cuts from all of the drug dealing. Zoe’s arrival has put her on their radar, and in the sites of their brooding henchman, Boxer.

That is the simple version of the story. What actually happens across 10 episodes is alternately a telenovela, a 90s electronica send-up, a murder mystery, and summer vacation porn. Or rather, TV-MA porn.  Does it feel like something the algorithms cooked up?  Sometimes. Will you want to watch it anyways?  See: what happens in the first episode, and decide for yourself.

The takeaway:

Tonally, it might leave you with an Ibiza-worthy hangover, jerking you from over-the-top 90s debauchery to the noir violence of a stretched-thin mafia thriller…to a streamy beach romance. But it’s a tense and transporting caper that might just keep you in a trance with its striking visuals, nostalgia-tinged and pulsating soundtrack, and ominous underbelly.

 

Watch it with:

Yourself, in the heat of summer, stuck inside in need of AC.

Worth noting:

There’s a reference early on in the series to Jean Luc Goddard’s 1960 New Wave film Breathless, which fans of the series picked up as a harbinger.  “It starts of crazy and then turns into this great love story.”  We’ll let you be the judge of that.

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