‘The ones in the last row’, the return of Daniel Sánchez Arévalo to television 20 years later: “When everyone ranted about TV, I only felt gratitude”

A funny and emotional comedy starring five inseparable friends on the most transformative journey of their lives. It premieres in full on Netflix this Friday, September 23.

When we think of Daniel Sánchez Arévalo, a lot of films that left their mark and that are already the history of our cinema come to mind. From his debut darkbluecasualblacko (2006), with which he won the Goya Award for Best Nobel Director, until Fat (2009), Cousins (2011), The great Spanish family (2013) or, more recently, Seventeen (2019). Now, the famous Spanish director and screenwriter premieres a new series on Netflix: Those in the last row, one emotional comedy starring five friends on the most transformative and important journey of their lives.

They are Leo, Carol, Sara, Alma and Olga, five women who lead absolutely different lives and with very different personalities but who are united by a unique and sincere friendship that they have maintained since they were just girls. Every year, the five friends organize a trip to reconnect, talk, share and strengthen their ties, but this year’s trip is different: one of them has been diagnosed with cancer and it will be the last one they do before she starts her chemotherapy sessions.

Led by Mariona Terés, María Rodriguez Soto, Itsaso Arana, Mónica Miranda and Godeliv Van Den Brandt, with The ones in the last row Sánchez Arévalo returns to a language from which he had stayed away for 20 yearsbut who recognizes that he owes it all.

“In 1993 I became a scriptwriter for Farmacia de Guardia as a very small boy with no experience at all,” recalls the director in Interview with SensaCinema on the occasion of the launch of the new Netflix series. “And for 12 years I was writing series and I owe him everything. He gave me the trade, the tables, the tools,” he says about that stage of his life in which he wrote for some very famous series, such as sisters or Central Hospital, but also in other less successful ones. One of his most notable jobs as a television writer would be they are like that (1999), a series starring entirely by women about sisters as different as they are inseparable that inevitably reminds us of the base on which it is based The ones in the last row.

In those moments when everyone was ranting about the TV, I had nothing but words of thanks, because [esas series] I was taught to write and I met wonderful people. And that gave me everything [Daniel Sánchez Arévalo]


Netflix

‘The ones in the last row’.

After jumping from short to feature film and staying on that stage for the last few decades, Sánchez Arévalo acknowledges that writing and directing a new television series has been a truly exhausting effort. Hard. But, now that it’s finished, he feels deeply satisfied: “The effort is much greater. It means having to write six chapters of about 40-50 minutes, which in the end is like making two films, almost three. I had just become a father, no It gave me life and facing 16 weeks of filming, 16 weeks of preparation and 16 weeks of post-production was a very, very big challenge from which I ended up quite exhausted but very happy. It has been very intense but very cool”.

‘The ones in the last row’: “The Erasmus I’ve never done”

Similarly, for the leading actresses who lead the cast, it has also meant an intense, different experience and the rain reflections that The ones in the last row poses to the viewer, they also experienced them on a personal level: “It is a very transformative journey and one that puts you to the test in many things. In the end, the hair thing was like the threshold, like the little door we went through, but it was the least of it and then came thousands of other challenges. I always said: Every day is Christmas here,” recalls Itsaso Arana about the experience.

“It was very intense and it was a long time,” agrees his partner María Rodríguez Soto. “I had never done such a long shoot and so much time away from home. So not only on an actress or professional level, but also On a personal level there are also complicated moments and there are revealing and wonderful moments because you feel like yourself again. I always said that The ones in the last row It’s the Erasmus I’ve never done”.


Netflix

‘The ones in the last row’

Arana’s comment about the hair is interesting, since the actresses had to shave their hair for the first scene of the series. A very important detail to understand the type of friendship these women have, but which, for some of them, was a handicap. “It was what made me the most nervous at first,” admits Rodríguez Soto. “We saw each other in the shadows and we were scared because we all looked like Nosferatu,” adds Arana, amused. “It was a great challenge and a very strong act of dedication.”

For Godeliv Van Den Brandt, however, it was the push he needed to do something he had always wanted to do.

Shave my head and go on a trip, where do I sign?

“I had been wanting to shave my hair for a long time. When Dani [Sánchez Arévalo] He asked me if I would shave my hair for just jumping out of the chair,” says the actress. “It’s something I would never have done but, due to the demands of the script, at the end you think: ‘Wow, that’s good for me because I’m going to try it,'” admits her partner Mariona Terés “I got nervous because we had to do it ourselves but, as I was doing it, I was happy.”

“We have experienced the series with many changes in our lives and in those of the whole team,” recalls De Brandt. “It seemed that we were all living the trip of the girls”, adds Mónica Miranda, who confesses that everyone in the last row has learned a lifelong lesson: “I remember them a lot in those moments when you get overwhelmed by nonsense. Now I think: ‘Take off that backpack, because life is something else.”

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