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March 24, 2023

Galician noir: how a rainy corner of Spain spawned a new TV genre

Spanish dramas such as Money Heist have been taking the world by storm in recent years. But why are film-makers now flooding to the country’s north-west to make their shows?

Rosa Vargas’s arrival in a small town in north-western Spain to investigate the disappearance of a young girl marked an unlikely milestone. Vargas is the fictional police detective in O sabor das margaridas (Bitter Daisies), which, in 2019 became the first series in Galician, a language spoken by fewer than 2.5 million people, to be broadcast by Netflix. The series became one of the top 10 most-watched non-English language shows in the UK and Ireland just a month after its international release.

A decade after Nordic noir captured the attention of international TV audiences, a TV genre some are calling “Galician noir” is emerging from the rainy corner of Spain. HBO made its debut in the Galician language last year with a Spanish-Portuguese miniseries Auga seca (Dry Water), a murder mystery set in the port city of Vigo, and was soon followed by the Galician-produced police thriller La unidad (The Unit) on the Spanish subscription platform Movistar+. More recently, El desorden que dejas (The Mess You Leave Behind), based on a novel by the screenwriter Carlos Montero, premiered on Netflix in December.

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