White Lines

Barry Ward, Laura Haddock, Tallulah Evans and Francis Magee in 'White Lines'.
Barry Ward, Laura Haddock, Tallulah Evans and Francis Magee in 'White Lines'.
Photo: Nick Wall/Netflix


3/5 Stars


When the body of a legendary Manchester DJ is discovered twenty years after his mysterious disappearance from Ibiza, his sister returns to the beautiful Spanish island to find out what happened. Her investigation will lead her through a thrilling world of dance clubs, lies and cover-ups, forcing her to confront the darker sides of her own character in a place where people live life on the edge.


Chaos - that's the best way to describe the self-indulgent ride that is White Lines. Born from the mind of Money Heist's creator Álex Pina, the British-Spanish Netflix series is filled with mass orgies, heart-stopping levels of drug use and even a son who is a little too close to his own mother. You are not entirely sure if it's a love letter to the debauchery of Ibiza and 'having a good time' or if it's a cautionary tale about the dark side of 'carpe diem' and its self-destructive spiral. But while we all feel like we're living in the End of Days, maybe a little bit of mindless extravagance is just the ticket to remind you you're still sane at least.

The series focuses on Zoe Walker and her quest to find her brother's killer on the glitzy island of Spain's Ibiza. Killed 20 years ago, but his body only discovered recently, he was once the most famous DJ on the island, but Zoe is slowly finding out who her brother really was.

This is the kind of show that loves to mess with the characters and the audience's perception of them. One minute you love one character, the next you despise them - and you end up wanting only happiness for probably one of the shadiest characters of them all. While there's constant emotional intensity, fuelled by drugs and other addictions, if you try to dive any deeper, you'll hit the bottom pretty quickly. It tries to turn the idea of 'having a good time' into some philosophical quandary, but just as it feels too shallow, the story acknowledges this superficiality enough to make you want to stay.

Just like everyone on Ibiza, you visit White Lines for an escape and not to think too deeply about the numerous plotholes and disjointed story construction. I also love that they play up the antagonism for arrogant and loud-mouthed British tourists and ex-pats from the Spaniards - something us South Africans can relate to.

As for the cast, they are a really interesting group of actors - they all drive their performances with precision and dedication. While Zoe Walker is a bit of a plank of a character on paper, Laura Haddock portrays her with mesmerising charm and deadly edge. My favourite, however - both character and actor - was Nuno Lopes playing the gritty bouncer Boxer. It's a character that will grow on you - and grows himself - and Lopes gave such a passionate performance that I would love to see his other work. By the end, you will just want good things to happen to Boxer.

And then we come to Axel Collins - the doting brother and eccentric DJ that put the whole story into motion. A lot of times with these kinds of murder mystery shows the audience cares very little about the victim - but White Lines give him enough screentime to make you really understand the power he has, and if you ever met him in real life would probably also be as obsessed as those around him. It says a lot about the skills and oddly enigmatic persona of Tom Rhys Harries - the actor who portrays him with a scary level of aptitude.

White Lines is not something to watch with your parents and is not an advisable show for sensitive people. It's quite a raw portrayal of debauchery, and while the chaos that swirls around the characters can be entertaining, even the most open-minded people might become uncomfortable at times. But a little escape into Sodom and Gomorra might just be what the doctor ordered.



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