Mystery and Melodrama Make a Splash in the 1940s
Streaming on Netflix | 2019 | TV-MA | 1 season, 8 episodes
Genre: Glam 1940s murder mystery, modern Spanish melodrama
Why We Watched: I just got back from a delightful trip to Chile, where explored Santiago and work on a project with my favorite college professor. After she mentioned that High Seas was Netflix's newest Spanish-language offerings, we gave it a try and the show quickly became an evening staple.
You Might Also Like: High Seas is a careful balance of mysteries that will have you playing detective and plot twists that will have you sitting on the edge of your seat. If you're here for the cat-and-mouse-type thrill, the assassins of Killing Eve will feed your need for a slow-paced mystery. But, if you're looking for a lighter binge that offers an unexpected—dare I say dramatic—narrative arc Jane the Virgin is a perfect pick.
A string of mysterious deaths quickly turn a luxury ship's journey across the Atlantic into a tumultuous search for the murderer. Centered around sisters Eva (Ivana Baquero) and Carolina Villanueva (Alejandra Onieva), High Seas is set aboard a 1940s cruise liner traveling from Spain to Brazil. Although the show starts with the murder of one woman—who does not appear on the passenger log and no one remembers boarding—it becomes apparent that there's more depth to the story than what is on the surface. Hidden spouses! Relatives returned from the dead! Potential Nazi sympathizers! This TV show flawlessly weaves together its many plots and subplots so that you only understand the full scope of the mystery as the season comes to a close.
As you might suspect based on the TV show's tagline ("Some secrets are as deep as the ocean."), to explain the plot without spoiling its many twists and turns is nearly impossible. My one sentence pitch is this: High Seas has something for everyone, whether you love travel, powerful female leads, or a will-they-won't-they romance.
But, beyond the plot, one of the best parts of this show is the vintage period decor. The ship design captures the glamour and luxury of the 1940s, best exemplified by the first-class dining room at the center of the ship. Round tables are spread across the plush black and deep blue carpet. The front of the room features a grand stage where singer Clara (Laura Prats) and her jazz ensemble serenade diners each evening, and the back of the room leads to a sweeping staircase up to the mezzanine level. The entire scene glows with the glints of gold furniture and twinkles of chandeliers.
And the way that these frames are shot and pieced together gives the show a comic book-like aesthetic. Nearly every shot is a close-up that captures the heightened emotion. That, in combination with the frequent cutaways and dollies that track the characters' movements throughout the ship, creates high-quality images that look equally good on the TV screen in your living room or your cell phone.
Between the melodrama and jawdropping cliffhangers at the end of each episode, High Seas just might be the best TV binge to hit streaming platforms this year. But if there is one recommendation I can make, it would be to watch the episodes serially. There's a certain suspense that comes from waiting in between episodes—even if just for a few minutes.
Grab some popcorn and get ready to set sail the high seas!
Happy streaming, Tess