It’s a shame that shows like Las Bravas F.C. get so little traction and attention in the world of futbol. It’s a cute, entertaining series that abounds with examples and themes of diversity, inclusion, and female footballer role models. Lead actor Mauricio Ochmann is a popular telenovela star with a charisma that echoes Ryan Reynolds and with an unnerving resemblance to Mikel Arteta. But I only came across this enjoyable series while scrolling through HBO Max. So I suggest you watch it while you can.
In the story, Roberto Casas (Mauricio Ochmann) is the best footballer in the world but at the end of his career. He is about to leave Spain to play in China for a final payout, but he suffers a heart attack on the field. Though he can no longer play, he continues his high-rolling lifestyle and, not having a good financial planner, he quickly goes bankrupt and on top of that, is charged with tax evasion. His image sullied, his agent tells him to take a gig in his birthplace in Mexico, where they will honor him with a statue, and hopefully the media event will revive his popularity.
But on arrival, Roberto finds that Mexicans consider him a traitor. Like the real-life Brazilian Diego Costa, Roberto chose to play for the Spanish National Team instead of La Selección de México. Roberto is scorned, and his statue is constantly trashed and abused. And Roberto is now stuck in the tiny little town, because he can’t even afford to fly back to Spain, where they would arrest him anyway. He strikes a deal with the town’s richest man, who will pay off Roberto’s debts if he can lead the owner’s team to promotion to the first division.
It is only when Roberto arrives at practice that he realizes Las Bravas is a womens team, and a poor one at that. Over the episodes, Roberto rebuilds old relationships that he had abandoned: his old coach Martin (José Sefami) and Sebas (Mauricio Barrientos), his old buddy from youth futbol who now coaches the women.
Having really been a self-centered teenager for his entire adult life, Roberto gradually matures with his players, especially when he learns one of them (Ana Valeria Becerril) is a daughter he did not know he had. He develops the girls and their love for the sport. He builds bridges, makes mistakes, and rebuilds the bridges again, all the way to the championship game.
Director and showrunner Ariel Winograd has a long history of comedy and likes to throw obstacles at his characters, because the humor lies in how they solve the problems and the mistakes they make in doing so. But as I’ve related above, Las Bravas FC is not really a story about women; it really centers on the redemption of Roberto Casas. As Casas, Mauricio Ochmann is fun to watch and full-flavored eye candy.
Besides the predicaments of Roberto Casas, there are many themes in the series with which one can identify. The female footballers represent elements such as body-positivity, defying macho stereotypes, female camaraderie, female athleticism, and athletic opportunity for women. The rest of the characters contribute humorous side stories: the big ideas marketing guy in a wheelchair, the gay coach (and referee), the competitive but diminutive opposing coach, the bartender who wants to be a social influencer, the hapless husband of the mayor, and the witch who puts a curse on Roberto.
Back in 2019, MediaPro, who claims to represent 25% of prime time programming throughout the world, announced that they were forming MediaPro Studio to produce 34 series for a global audience, in Spanish and English. Las Bravas FC was one of the productions they announced, of course delayed by the pandemic until its recent 2022 release.
Las Bravas FC is a multinational effort. MediaPro is based in Barcelona, the story idea was originated by the Spaniard known as Flipy (aka Enrique ‘Kike’ Perez Vergara), the Directors are the Argentine Winograd and the Mexican Javier Fox Patron, the writers are a mix of Mexico and Spain, and Mauricio Ochmann is born in the USA but a star in Mexico. The diversity plus collaboration with American companies helps create a high quality series that targets a worldwide audience.
The fictional town of Playa Àngel was filmed in Campeche in 2021, and it appears the stadium is the Estadio Delfin of la Universidad Autónoma de Campeche.
OK, the strength exercises look somewhat real, but the futbol is mostly a metaphor. Only the most macho of the female actors seems to actually know how to play. Ochmann says he originally wanted to be a footballer as a child. You know, let’s take his word for it.
If you’re tired of the same old same old in football shows, give Las Bravas FC the chance to make you smile. Original and entertaining.
8 Soccer Movie Mom Rating = 8