‘Money Heist’ Portrays Our Deepest Fantasy: Taking Down Capitalism

Money Heist/La casa del papel

Money Heist (or La casa de papel as it’s known in its native Spanish) completes its legendary run on Netflix with its sixth season. At first glance, the heists in this show look pretty typical: planned by two masterminds, executed by some cliché, marginalized robbers, and just to steal money. But through the confrontation between Raquel Murillo and El Profesor, we learn that the first heist has a sentimental dimension since El Profesor’s father used to rob banks to treat his ill son and got killed by the police during a robbery. As one of the countless victims of capitalism’s inequality, El Profesor plans this heist as a tribute to his father. And Berlin confirms the emotional side of his brother: “You already know the Professor’s an idealist. He cares more about the message than the cash.”

During the confrontation with Murillo, El Profesor tackles one of the show’s main themes: the double standards in our capitalist society. He tries to clear his name and the gang’s who was printing the money by saying they weren’t doing anything different than what the Central Bank was doing. Not only does Sergio Marquina (El Profesor’s real name) denounce the ethics of our modern society, but he also belittles the value of money, one of our world’s major pillars: “It’s paper. It’s just paper. See?”

We learn that with his gang, El Profesor is leading a symbolic resistance against a rotten system, using only their “natural privileges” of intelligence and physical strength. The anthem of the show “Bella Ciao,” which was at first a cry against working conditions, then a symbol of rebellion against the fascist regime during WWII, confirms the revolutionary aspect of the show. The feminist resistance is embodied by Tokyo and Nairobi, two resilient women who stand up to misogynistic men whether they’re their fellow teammates or hostages. They eventually take over as leaders of the group, feared as they are by men. The robbers’ main goal is to escape from this system which perceives them as a “group of losers” because they’re unprivileged. El Profesor asks Murillo rhetorically, “Don’t you want to escape?” Afterward, the inspector who was “abandoned” by her colleagues in the police, joins the gang under the name of Lisbon.

Although they succeed in printing €2.4 billion and escaping, three members of the crew die in the process. These losses make the series’ message even more realistic – there isn’t a revolution without sacrifice. After some time, and even though members of the crew got to live a life of luxury, El Profesor decides to reunite them for a second heist, this time targeting the Royal Mint. Here, the series’ message is further confirmed with these thefts clearly going beyond mere greed. This time El Profesor wants to pay tribute to his brother Berlin.

Just like the first heist, El Profesor keeps manipulating the police and the military colonel. Another inspector, Alicia Sierra, is betrayed by the power structure she was working for, despite her best efforts to catch the heist’s mastermind. Offended by her bossy attitude, Colonel Tamayo sacrifices her to save his own skin. Although Sierra was more stubborn than Murillo, she eventually take El Profesor’s side too. The betrayal of both inspectors shows that female agents of capitalist institutions are the first victims of the patriarchal system.

Unlike the first heist where money was the only issue, the fate of a nation, the government’s credibility, and the potential collapse of Spain’s economy are all at stake during this second thievery. Seeing these significant elements of the capitalist system threatened, the police, military force, and the monetary institutions panic. In the first heist, El Profesor taught us the negligible value of money. During this second one, he shows us the bluff around the importance of gold reserves, which he described as a “psychological safety belt.” Using this idea, he plays the biggest bluff in history by offering Tamayo trucks full of brass, convincing him that lying to the public is his only option since El Profesor will reveal the truth if he or any robber is shot. Desperate to be a hero, Tamayo accepts the offer. In a press release, he announces that the gold was reclaimed and the robbers killed. Later, we discover that El Profesor and his gang are alive, enjoying new identities courtesy of Spain’s authorities. These events are “like any other state secret,” to quote El Profesor. This ending holds the show’s course, making us wonder how transparent our governments are, how many other dark state secrets they’ve been hiding.

Money Heist isn’t a typical Robin Hood story: El Profesor and his gang don’t steal for a noble cause, but only to find justice for themselves in a world that hasn’t treated them fairly. The extraordinary thing about the two heists is that El Profesor took down a seemingly flawless system, using its flaws. And with that, Money Heist gave us the ability to dream of what it looks like outside of the constraints of our economic system. Through these four years, we fantasized about taking down capitalism. Maybe one day, it’ll be our reality.

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