El Marginal: Netflix ~ A Bite-Sized Review

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Theatrical poster for the show El Marginal


El Marginal (2016-) is an Argentinian TV show on Netflix. 3 seasons with a 4th on the way and the 5th confirmed. Episodes are S1-13 episodes, S2-3 8 episodes each. 18 Cert U.K. In Spanish with English close captioning for S1 then normal subtitles for S2 and S3. 

Premise for S1: 

“Pastor, an undercover cop sets on a mission to rescue the kidnapped daughter of a judge by infiltrating the prison where she’s suspected to be. Once inside he will have to learn to live by the prison’s and the inmates’ rules.” (IMDb) 


Martina Gusman as Emma 

Gerardo Romano as Antín

Claudio Rissi as Borges 

Nicolás Furtado as Diosito 

Juan Minujín as Pastor 

Abel Ayala as César 

Carlos Portaluppi as Morcilla 

Bite-Sized Review: 

Straight off I will say that El Marginal is very gritty, extremely violent, has strong sexual content, drug use and lots of swearing (the full set really). So it is not for everybody! 

El Marginal is a show which revolves around some phenomenally well-developed, and played characters. It is one where you find yourself rooting for deeply flawed, often very violent men who you most likely started off being repulsed by. It is also clear that some of the prisoners have better moral compasses than those with the responsibility of containing them! 

As this show progresses we are shown the most intimate details of some of these men’s lives, the corruption from above and the gang dynamics and affiliations between the prisoners themselves. It is not a show lacking in deeper social commentary or religious symbolism (there is one fabulous recreation of The Last Supper). 

Almost all the complex plot revolves around life inside one particular men’s prison, San Onofre. The way the prison itself is used as an integral part of the show is fantastic, especially the outer courtyard area (this prison will be an immense shock to those used to seeing “normal” prisons on screen). When the story does spill outside the prison walls you can guarantee it will not be any less messy. 

There is a lot of excellent cinematography, great direction and some very realistic fights, both individual and en masse. The prison itself as a set is fantastic and almost seems like another character. 

Highly recommended if you like gritty, realistic shows with great characters that are out of the norm. 

Reel2ReelTalk rating (max 5 ⭐️) 

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ 1/2

Trailer S1 (no subtitles): 

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