Season 1 - 13 episodes (2015 TV3/ 2016 Netflix)
|Merli Season 1|
Created by: Héctor Lozano
Starring: Francesc Orella, David Solans, Pere Ponce
In this Catalan language series, Merlí is a high school philosophy teacher who encourages students to think outside the box. His unorthodox methods causes concerns from parents and teachers.
I've only watched the first five episodes. I like the premise with an unorthodox teacher, but as the season continued, I realized Merlí is selfish and petty, using philosophy as an excuse or explanation depending on the situation.
This becomes very soap opera with tangled relationships, and while Merlí is helping students, that feels like a coincidence rather than the focus.
Due to time constraints, I'm reviewing what I've see, but I would like to continue watching this and update this review. Based on what I've seen, I'm giving it the benefit of the doubt. I have legitimate concerns that this will just focus more on drama instead of a teacher that helps students. With each episode Merlí seems to care less about students and more about furthering his own machinations. In five episodes it's heading that way, and my verdict is on the verge of being a 'Skip it.' With just one more episode, it easily could swing that way.
The premise feels a lot like Dead Poet's Society (1989), with the added twist that his son is in his class. Each episode is named after a philosopher.
As this continued it was less about an inspiring teacher and more about a selfish man that uses his knowledge to justify his actions. This calls into question why he's even teaching. It doesn't seem like it's for the student.
|This is Merlí.|
He tells another teacher how beautiful she is, commenting that he wants nothing more he is just sharing his thoughts. I wondered if this was going to try to break social standards that telling a woman that means you're flirting with her. I was about to applaud the show for that before I realized Merlí is a liar. He does like this woman that's half his age and devises a plan to win her over. I don't fault that he likes her, but his plan works and they end up together despite the fact she already has a boyfriend. I was with the show until this happened, in the first episode no less. It just seems silly. I get that attitude can overcome looks, but this happens way too fast without any buildup.
Merlí is also petty. he starts a feud with an English teacher Eugeni because Merlí doesn't approve of his methods. Merlí is arrogant. He's going to have his son cheat on the English teacher's exam just to get back at him.
In episode two it turns more into a soap opera. Merlí's student Pol's girlfriend lies about a pregnancy to stop a breakup. This is on top of Merlí and Laia the teacher half his age who just can't quit Merlí. That's the biggest mystery of this show. He claims it's not his problem if she cheats. He's despicable, using rhetoric to weasel out of responsibility. Everything he's done has been selfish.
The soap opera continues as Pol is told by Merlí's son Bruno that his girlfriend isn't pregnant. Merlí's son spills the information about Laia to her boyfriend the gym teacher.
Laia is upset that everyone knows about her and Merlí, but he doesn't care. He got what he wanted. Bruno is getting picked on by the Eugeni because of Merlí, having failed a test he should have passed. Eugeni tries to turn the other teachers against Merlí, while Merlí lets one of his students, Joan, take the fall for him. This isn't quite what I thought it would be. It seems he's inspiring the students, but only by accident. Joan's father thinks Merlí is brainwashing his son, and he might be right. While Merlí is helping an agoraphobic student, I have a suspicion he's doing that to negotiate a full time position.
With each episode I liked Merlí less. I thought he was going to be an inspiring teacher, but his whole persona could quickly turn into a facade. He's taking advantage of everyone. He's started a feud with another teacher, that I'm willing to bet he'll use that for sympathy. A student has already lied to protect Merlí, with Merlí not concerned whatsoever. All of his actions are selfish. This just feels more wrong when he's potentially cheating kids and you know he'll try to turn that into a philosophy lesson as to why it was right he threw them under the bus to save himself.