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'The Kingdom' Season 2 Trailer: Netflix Should've Made This Religious Satire a Bigger Hit

By Alberto Cox Délano | TV | March 11, 2023 |

By Alberto Cox Délano | TV | March 11, 2023 |


One of the things that Netflix did great back in their halcyon days of … 2017, was to create truly Global phenomenons with series that were not in the English language: La Casa de Papel, Élite, Dark, Squid Game. Among many other things they seem to have lost, this is the most frustrating, because Netflix’s non-Anglo output is still great, but they seem to be content with promoting it only in the origin countries (like with Poland’s 1983 or Portugal’s Glória) or, at best, within a region. That’s the case with The Kingdom (El Reino), an Argentinian series that was a huge hit in its home country, Chile and Uruguay, but could’ve been major with a little push everywhere else.

Released in 2021, El Reino centers on a plague a problem imported from the United States: The influence of evangelical churches and TV pastors over politics. And we were barely beginning to get rid of the oversized influence of the Catholic Church.

Emilio Vázquez Pena (Diego Peretti) is an influential, magnetic and very wealthy evangelical pastor from the Greater Buenos Aires area. His popularity, interpersonal charm, and charity work with street children have shielded him from any king of public inquiry and pushback. Because if there’s one thing that Argentina has got going for her, it’s that you can buy your way out of prosecution, but not out of being exposed as a crook. In order to capitalize on his popularity and to lock in reactionary voters, Emilio is chosen by Armando Badajoz a mainstream right-wing politician, to be his running mate for the Presidency of Argentina. But during the campaign’s kick-off event, Armando is murdered and Emilio succeeds him in the running. With powerful international (coughUScough) interests supporting him, with a wife (Elena, played by Mercedes Morán) fully embracing her Lady Macbeth role and in a country in a perpetual state of making terrible, terrible, terrible decisions, his chances of winning are pretty strong.

At the same time, the murder investigation, led by the one of few honest policewomen in Argentina (Roberta Candia, played by Nancy Dupláa) helps Emilio’s right hand, Julio Clamens (Chino Darín, yeah, like that Darín) to unearth the scope of the depravity in which Emilio is involved with. And when I say depravity, I mean it in the English-language sense, with a sprinkle of the Spanish-language sense (perversion). At the center of the power play is an orphaned street boy nicknamedl “El Pez” (“The Fish”, hint, hint) and Tadeo Vázquez (Peter Lanzani, also in Argentina 1985), a reformed ex-con, left-wing hand of Emilio and a man with a heart and a voice of gold, who might be the only righteous person in the pastor’s sphere, and the only one who can outtrick him.

Created, directed and written by director Marcelo Piñeyro and writer Claudia Piñeiro (no relation), the series confidently embraces the tropes of Latin melodrama and elements of magical realism, while creating a terrifying satire of the very real, very present threats to Latin America’s fledgling democracies. After all, the growing popularity of evangelical churches did not grow in a vacuum, but because the state has abandoned entire swathes of population to fend for themselves, on top of Argentina’s constant state of crisis.

It should’ve become the kind of series that everyone recommends everyone else to watch, from water coolers in Lagos to smoke break rooms in Melbourne. Instead, Netflix, in its infinite sloppiness, didn’t even bother to create a subtitled version of the trailers. Luckily, the series is subtitled in dozens of languages, but the programming geniuses at Netflix are still unconvinced of the thing they proved themselves: That a series with a good pitch will draw in viewers everywhere in the world, regardles of its original context

I’ll embed the trailer for the second season anyway because it has great Biblical-horror vibes. From what I can tell, Emilio did win the presidency, started his own fascistoid paramilitary (wouldn’t be the first Argentinian religious nutcase to start one), meanwhile, Tadeo Vázquez returns from an exile in the Argentinian Northwest as a people’s prophet. Argentinian and Latin American history tells us you shouldn’t trust either.

The Kingdom Season 2 streams on March 22. It will be the final season, because on Netflix, you can’t even quit while you’re ahead.