1676354885 Thistle successfully walks the path of self destruction and redemption

‘Thistle’ successfully walks the path of self-destruction and redemption

“Nothing bothers you, / nothing scares you; / everything passes”. María met Santa Teresa de Jesús in prison and now she is a different María. “I’m a big Santa Teresa fan,” he says to some strangers at a party, the first he’s going to after dating third grade, and one he’s having trouble integrating into. In the past, when she was walking aimlessly and about to turn thirty, Mary was entrusted to Saint Expedite, patroness of the just and urgent cause, the impossible and youth. Cardo returned to Atresplayer Premium this Sunday with the first two episodes of his second season. And he did it after setting the bar very high in his first few episodes, which aired in late 2021. The story of this young woman, who lives very fast until fate forces her to stay dead, garnered awards – including Ondas a la Best Drama Series – and accolades from the trade press.

Following the character of Lena Dunham in Girls, a groundbreaking series that reveals the concerns of a generation of millennial creators without complexities and with much to tell, more than a generation’s voice, the first season of Cardo was the scream of one woman of a generation. The co-creator couple Ana Rujas (33 years old) and Claudia Costafreda (30 years old) was a marriage of convenience arranged by Javier Calvo and Javier Ambrossi, Los Javis, the producers of this story. Costafreda was a screenwriter for Veneno and Rujas had written and starred opposite Bárbara Mestanza in The Ugliest Woman Alive, in a way the nucleus of her first series as a protagonist and screenwriter. Calvo and Ambrossi believed the combination could work. And he did.

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His series risks content and form. In half-hour episodes, the protagonist burns through after-hours nights, searching for the meaning of life through drugs and sex. The contrast between her words and her thoughts is shown with silkscreen characters, a device reminiscent of the looks at the camera and the messages to the viewer of Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Fleabag. An accident with serious consequences makes him reconsider everything, life, his meaning, he is afraid of prison, he assumes that he will, and so it happens.

Ana Rujas, in the second episode of the second season of 'Cardo'.Ana Rujas, in the second episode of the second season of “Cardo” TAMARA ARRANZ

In season two, a loneliness-dominated crossroads between redemption and self-destruction, three years later Maria is about to leave the place where she had already felt safe thanks to the support of her new friend Santa Claus, and is preparing to date the third grade. All she has to do is stay overnight in a social integration center: her cell phone will set an alarm every afternoon to remind her when she has to go back to the CIS, like Cinderella from Carabanchel. As I feared, things are not easy out there. As she tries to find her place in society and build a life from scratch – she doesn’t want to be the Maria from before, but at the same time she just has the Maria from before as a starting point – she sets out to help Santa Claus and contact his daughter. But the world and people keep turning their backs on him. It’s checked. She’s lonelier than ever. After the first four chapters, she’s forever trying to stay on track and not get into illegal drugs (legal ones are another story). But the old María, who always made the worst decisions, throws away a lot and will go back to her old ways.

The creators of Cardo didn’t want the show’s second season to repeat the patterns of the first. To do this, they put their protagonist (a brilliant Ana Rujas, who manages to communicate in her face and looks all the fragility, fear and feeling of being lost that her character has) in a completely different situation and give her a goal : to reform and do good, with Saint Teresa as a reference. She writes herself down to help her friend and daughter wherever she can.

Gabriel Ibáñez and Ana Rujas, in the fifth episode of the second season of 'Cardo'.Gabriel Ibáñez and Ana Rujas, in the fifth episode of the second season of “Cardo” TAMARA ARRANZ

If you could see the reflection of this lost generation in the first season, now María is lonelier than ever and doesn’t even seem to have the strength to call for help, she does it with her eyes. The new chapters once again focus on taking formal paths away from the conventional. Jumps in time, changes of perspective or even a third whole chapter in black and white show the ambition that was already present in the first episodes.

You could say that Cardo created a school. Just as the memory of Girls was inevitable when it premiered, the spirit of the Rujas and Costafreda series hovers over Autodefensa, the Filmin production signed by Berta Prieto, Belén Barenys and Miguel Ángel Blanca. However, the autofiction starring Prieto and Barenys is very far removed from Cardo, both in tone (Atresplayer stays close to the tragic side of life and moves away from the self-awareness that dominates filmin) and in the world it reflects (the working-class neighborhoods of Madrid against the privileged class of Barcelona). Both have drugs and young women in them, but perhaps the difference in age and looks and vision and outlook on life makes them so different in their outcomes.

Even today, still with its second season, Cardo tastes fresh air in a panorama that of Spanish serial fiction, in which it is difficult to find examples that really stand out from the rest, a fiction that does not dare to take risks and Getting Rid of the Burdens of the Past Those who do it with La ruta, I don’t like driving, Fácil, ¡García!, La Unidad or Cardo, with their advantages and disadvantages, we must applaud and give them credit. “Nothing bothers you, / nothing scares you; / everything passes”.

Ana Rujas, during the filming of the second season of 'Cardo'.Ana Rujas, at a point during the filming of the second season of “Cardo” TAMARA ARRANZ

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