Merlí: A Very Different TV Series

July 5, 2019
If you're looking for a TV series that's groundbreaking, politically incorrect, and unique, Merlí is the perfect one for you. Who could have ever guessed that a TV show would make philosophy popular during an age where we're all moving at a fast pace and not thinking deeply about things?

There have never been so many TV series out at one time as there are now. Although, to be fair, calling them “TV” series isn’t exactly accurate anymore. All these new streaming platforms for TV, movies, reality shows, and documentaries have completely changed our understanding of what a series can be. Merlí is a great example.

Among that massive range of options, there’s one series that has managed to teach, motivate, entertain, and amuse people. But what it has done above all is appeal to viewers’ emotional side. Plenty of series have done that, but what’s truly unheard of is for that to happen with a main character who’s a philosophy teacher. That’s the case with Merlí.

Merlí: Bringing Philosophy to People

People who are unfamiliar with philosophy often consider it dull and extremely boring or too theoretical. One of the great things about this series is that philosophy is something you see, apply, and feel when you watch. It’s not just something to be read or theorized about in this show. 

Many people consider philosophy the mother of all modern disciplines that seek knowledge. It talks about life, and asks all kinds of questions that these other disciplines address as well. So, what better way to teach philosophy than life itself? In this case, they do it through the main character, which is where the series gets its name.

Another great thing about the show is that every episode in its three seasons is based on a specific philosophical doctrine. Each episode shows the main ideas or theories of a specific philosopher without losing any sense of its plot. Merlí will give you a much more dynamic understanding of philosophy than you’re probably used to.

It’s Like Life Itself

This is a series with some serious tragicomedy at work. The main character, Merlí (played by Francesc Orella), is a seemingly worn-out philosophy teacher. He’s often immature, sensitive, and displays an annoying sense of masculinity. But he’s also authentic, wise, and provocative.

A lot of what goes on in this series also has to do with the other main characters: his students. As the show progresses, you’ll start to see more of the light and darkness in many of their lives. 

Part of what makes Merlí different as a teacher is that he mixes his personal life in with that of all his students. It’s one of the countless examples of his political incorrectness, of the way he calls into question societal boundaries and society in general. Teacher-student relationships go way beyond the walls of the classroom in this show.

Laughter, trembling, tears, frustration… that’s what this series will bring out in you. It’s extremely realistic and breaks away from any sense of predictability with really well-rounded characters.

Merlí as a Character

The main challenge with a series that has a single major character is that they have to be really well constructed. The way the creators built Merlí as a character is almost perfect. They’ve managed to create a “hero” with traits that are the complete opposite of the classic hero archetype.

You can see that he’s brave and bold, but also cowardly and immature. He’s all over the place emotionally but is also noble deep down. Thanks to his lack of moral hypocrisy (probably one of the most striking things about him), he’ll have you glued to the screen. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll always agree with him.

Life and death, sickness, love, drugs, friendship… those are just a few of the topics that come up in this unique series. But because of who he is, Merlí addresses them without being overly serious or overdramatic. To him, they’re just another part of life, and whichever ones you’re going through, you have to try to manage them as best you can.

His bond with each student is so special because he has such an obvious teenage side. That helps him connect with his class and the people watching him on the screen. But it’s not so much in his language or his interests, it’s something about his attitude. It’s his occasional hedonism and irresponsibility that does it.

In simple words, this is the kind of show that will pull you in without you even realizing it. It has also managed to make some things we really need right now popular: reflection, critical thought, acceptance, knowledge, and philosophy. Well done, Merlí!