In college I took a class in "Modern Philosophy," assuming that the philosophy would be modern. No, it's 18th century. All I remember about it is: "Berkeley" is pronounced "Barkeley." But the teaser to Merli,
a Spanish teen drama about a philosophy student, shows a guy gawking at another guy's bare butt, so I'll give it a try.
Scene 1: Score! Closeup of the bare butt of Pol (Carlos Cuevas) as he showers! We see most of the rest of him, too, as he dresses while getting a plot dump: He and Dad have just moved into an apartment together, he's going to work instead of applying to Uni, and his friend Bruno has just lost his Dad. I thought this was a Spanish series, but I don't understand anything they're saying.
Bruno appears. More plot dump: Pol hooked up with Bruno once, but he's actually straight. Bruno doesn't really believe him, but what can you do?
Scene 2: Pol runs into Dad and his new girlfriend, and decides that he should get on with his life, too. He applies to Uni after all, in philosophy.
First day of class at the amazingly ornate Universitat de Barcelona. That explains the language: not Spanish, Catalan!
Pol has a meet-cute with Biel (Pere Valribera), who guides him to the wrong class: math, not philosophy. Finally they find the correct class, Philosophical Issues, with a jaded, world-weary professor (world-weary after just 10 years on the job? Get back to me after 30 years!
). They also take classes in the History of Culture (all Marxist) and Symbolic Logic (which sounds like gibberish), and meet a Just-Friends Girl.
Scene 4: In the library, they get all-tongue tied over the Girl of Their Dreams, Minerva. Unfortunately, she already has a Rich Jerk boyfriend, Rai.
Scene 5: Ethics Class with another world-weary philosophy prof. She makes a bigoted joke to see if the students understand freedom of speech, and brings in a janitor to explain social inequality, and half the class walks out.
They all hang out after class. Pol sees Bruno eating Rainbow Flag cake with his new LGBT friends. Rich Jerk Rai (Pablo Capuz) stops by their table for a few minutes, then accidentally takes Pol's wallet!
Scene 7: In a palatial mansion, a rich blond lady is giving a blow job to a chunky working-class guy. Did I accidentally switch channels? This doesn't seem to be the same series at all. Someone rings the bell, so she sends working-class guy -- Henry -- to answer the door. It's Pol, bringing Rich Jerk Rai's wallet.
Mom comes downstairs and flirts with Pol before Rich Jerk Rai appears -- in a swimsuit!
Scene 8: They go up to Rai's room -- erm, suite -- to exchange wallets. Rai invites Pol to take a swim, but he refuses -- he has to work. But he sticks around long enough to gawk at Rai's bare butt as he dives into the pool.
Scene 9: Just Friends Girl goes to visit Minerva, who has a flat in the Temple of Augustus. Imagine living in a museum, looking out your window at the crowds on tour. We are introduced to roommates: Amy, a bubbly American, and Etin, a musician. Then on to Minerva's room, where she admits that she has a crush on Rich Jerk Rai. Wait -- I thought they were already dating?
Scene 10: Rich Jerk Rai's Mom having cupcakes with her friends. Rai comes in: Mom criticizes him for dropping out of Business to study...ugh...Philosophy. "Now you have somewhere to vomit your existentialism about being different from everyone else." So Rai is gay?
Nope: one of the friends excuses herself and goes to the bathroom to have sex with him. (No beefcake.)
Scene 11: Pol at his job. mopping the floor at a parking garage, when a middle-aged woman drives up: she needs help parking. They have sex. Wow, two college boys sexing up cougars, one after the other. I guess the director has a fetish.
Scene 12: Back to class. World-Weary Prof asks if it's ethical to discriminate against people because they are ugly. Then she has pastries with her friend and complains that students used to enroll in her classes because she was beautiful; now she's ugly, and attendance has dropped off. 10 to 1 Pol starts dating her before the term is over. We already know that he's into older ladies.
Scene 13: World Weary Prof meets her daughter, who appears to have Down's Syndrome. They discuss her chances of becoming Chancellor -- nil. Meanwhile Pol's Dad discusses moving in with his girlfriend, which makes Pol furiouos.
Scene 14: The pool at the palatial mansion. Rich Jerk Rai is pretending to be dead, but Mom isn't falling for his prank. They argue: "I've spent years tolerating your eccentricities, and the calls from school about your bad attitude and stupidity." "You should talk!" And so on, while Henry watches.
Pol and Bruno (David Solans) , his friend from Scene 1, talking over the recent events in Pol's life. They flirt. Bruno: "When you hook up with guys and girls, you're bisexual." Pol: "It was one time, and there was a girl between us. I only like girls. Besides, I'm not into labels." I've heard that one before. It means: I'm into guys, but I don't want to suffer the discrimination that comes from being out as gay.
He takes off his clothes and runs naked into the ocean (nice butt). Bruno muses: "I'm going to get you, Pol. In the end, all roads lead to Bruno." He strips and runs naked into the ocean, too. They frolick. The end.
Beefcake: A lot of bare butts, no lady parts (which is a good thing).
Other Sights: A lot of Barcelona.
Gay Characters: Bruno, the possibly bisexual Pol, and maybe Rai.
Heterosexism: Two cougar sex scenes.
Character Dump: There are about 20 named characters in this episode, impossible to keep track of them all, or to decide which ones are connected. Especially the middle-aged blond women who want to have sex with college boys. The director definitely has a fetish.
In the last scene, Pol says that he wants to get a scholarship, graduate, and become "a merli," so I assumed that Merli was a Catalan term for a kind of philosopher. But Google Translate is not familiar with the term.
IMDB lists a tv series called Merli, about an inspiring high school philosophy teacher. It has a Pol, but otherwise the characters are all different. This must be a sequel or a remake or something. So they named a tv series after a character who doesn't appear and is only mentioned once?
Plot Arc: No paranormal, no secret society, no mystery of any sort. What is this series about, Pol's sexual identity?
My Grade: C for the plot, A for the butts.