It is not often that I find myself binge-watching an all-female cast television series and left in tears when the final episode rolls the credits for the last time. However, the Mexican dramedy Desenfrenadas – or in English: Unstoppable – checked off both of these boxes. Released on Netflix back in February 2020, the show follows three young upper-class Mexican women on a road trip of self-discovery.
Vera, Rocío, and Carlota are lighter-skinned Latinx women whose privileged backgrounds, in comparison to that of their peers, are continually highlighted. Yet the glitter and glam on the surface of their lives disguise the same struggles and inner conflict that women across the socioeconomic spectrum experience. Rocío is battling the overbearing protectiveness of her father as well as the controlling nature of her suffocating boyfriend.
At the same time, Vera desperately attempts to wrestle her way out of a toxic open-relationship and recognize her worth as a fashion journalist. Carlota’s fight consists of putting her outspoken feminist ideology to the test when she is faced with real-life challenges to her ability to display her sexuality openly.
The feisty trio winds up crossing paths with Marcela, another young Mexican woman who becomes the fourth protagonist in this series. Unlike Vera, Rocío, and Carlota, Marcela is darker skinned, tattooed, and seems to be involved in some kind of criminal activity.
You might initially coin her as a representation of the stereotypical Latinx woman of an underprivileged background with a bad attitude and minimal morals. Still, the writers do an excellent job of avoiding textbook generalizations. Instead, they provide a relatable and lovable portrayal of a woman in search of a better life. Marcela struggles with an abusive boyfriend, lack of financial support, and physical safety, as well as a strong desire for family unity and genuine companionship.
Even though the first episode only touches upon Marcela’s story very briefly, her character development is explosive and essential to the show’s message of girl power. Her thirst for life is inspiring, and her dedication to family is admirable. Honestly, for me, she was the strong and beautiful female warrior I lacked in my life!
Furthermore, Marcela gives a voice to brown-skinned Latinx women who have been largely absent from starring roles in international television for decades. And, yes, we can all admit that Latinx representation in American produced tv and film has slightly improved over the past few years. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that this is a trend in other countries, and it also doesn’t mean that American portrayal of Latinx is always accurate and honest. Within Mexican television and film, women are often divided into two categories: independent and dependent.
The dependent women are typically presented in a more positive light based on their commitment to motherhood, domestic life, and caring for their husbands. On the other hand, the independent female characters in Mexican television are portrayed as impulsive, highly sexualized, and rebellious. These figures are not meant to represent a role model for young Mexican women, but rather a threat to traditional gender roles and the patriarchy.
With Diego Martínez Ulanosky’s killer script, for one of the first times ever, we are blessed with a cast of powerful, independent Latinx women who embrace their potential and don’t shy away from speaking out against inequality and double standards. Desenfrenadas acknowledges the many colors, shapes, and backgrounds of Latinx women without oversexualizing or stereotyping the show’s four female protagonists.
Mexican women produced television finally offers a substantially respectable, raw, and riveting example of the modern woman. The struggles and triumphs of Vera, Rocío, Carlota, and Marcela as young Latinx women bring authenticity to the story, and the trio’s blossoming friendship with Marcela is an empowering and heartbreaking development.
While we cannot label this series as entirely ‘feminist’ since it was created, written and produced by a man, Diego Martínez Ulanosky, Desenfrenadas is overflowing with some of the hardest-hitting feminist topics such as body image, rap, sexual and verbal abuse, female sexuality and more. By including Marcela into the mix, Ulanosky demonstrates that sisterhood goes beyond the wealth gap and exemplifies the importance of women supporting women in society. In fact, without Marcela, the series would largely be about the obstacles faced by lighter-skinned women from the upper crust of the social hierarchy.
By combining the distinct characteristics and backgrounds of the four girls – Carlota, for example, is perhaps one of the few representations of Jewish Latinx in television – Ulanosky illustrates that women across the spectrum experience a similar dosage of internal and external conflict. Our similarities are, in fact, much stronger than our differences despite the way we might appear on the surface. It was important for me to watch this series to gain greater self-confidence as well as feel a stronger sense of unity among women across all cultures. American television and film have dominated the industry for so long that it was about time we were introduced to a dynamite group of Latinx women with heart, ferocity, and a whole lot of oomph.
Every young woman needs to watch Desenfrenadas because the way in which feminist social issues are handled is refreshing and inspiring. The series champions the importance of self-discovery and sisterhood. How the four fierce yet vulnerable protagonists handle their distress and frustration as growing women is a raw and honest depiction of the challenges modern women face today. Plus, each episode is full of wit, charm, and good old-fashioned girl power! That being said, Ulanosky doesn’t shy away from the grim reality and threats women face, such as rape and verbal abuse.
Desenfrenadas gives the viewer an unfiltered look into the souls of Marcela, Vera, Rocío, and Carlota, whose journeys mirror that of every young girl today. I saw myself in these women, and that is ultimately what made me come crawling back for more. I didn’t want the series to end because I felt myself fighting alongside these girls and experiencing each moment of pain, joy, sadness, and ecstasy. I guarantee that each viewer will see a part of herself portrayed in the fabric of each of the characters.