To improve their image, the Argentine security forces create an inclusive urban guard, with members who are disabled or belong to different minorities.
They do not have experience, training or, some of them, a great desire to ensure the safety of the rest of the citizens of Buenos Aires.
By caroms of life, the fate of this peculiar urban guard intersects with a no less peculiar criminal gang.
The success of the Argentine comedy
, from Netflix, has caught its creator, Santiago Korovsky, by surprise, also the protagonist of a story that uses humor to break stereotypes and shows that comedy can be done on any topic if you know how. .
Korovsky had been working on an idea for more than four years that took shape over time and gained height and power.
First there was the idea of the security forces wanting to change his image.
Members with disabilities were later added to this germ, for which they turned to people from these groups to document themselves and to a diverse cast that also contributed their own experiences.
And everything was sprayed with a very particular humor, not suitable for
in times when political correctness is dominant.
“We felt that if we were solemn with our gaze towards minorities or people with disabilities, we were going to fall into a commonplace, reflect them as beings of light, infantilize them, asexualize them,” explains the screenwriter and actor in a video call conversation.
For this reason, he explains, it was the disabled or minority people with whom they worked who came up with the most extreme jokes.
Political incorrectness in humor: when the offense makes me laugh
An example: when one of the members of the urban guard returns to work after a failed operation, his colleagues receive him with three cruel signs that read "it was your fault."
A second later, they realize that the first poster is missing, that of Johnny (Hernán Cuevas) who, being a person with dwarfism, could not be seen.
Up on a chair and yes the full message is read: "it was not your fault."
In another episode, the manager of a comedy club offers a job to Sofía (Pilar Gamboa), who is in a wheelchair, and describes her as a "comedian with special abilities."
"Spiderman has special abilities," she replies, rejecting the condescending treatment.
Some of the members of the urban guard protagonist of 'Palermo Division', at one point in the series. Courtesy of Netflix
“In general, we are the object of ridicule, because we do not know how to stand before people with disabilities, or institutions and politics by appropriating the word inclusion and diversity, so fashionable, to end up making changes in form but not in form. background”, Korovsky explains about the humor of his series.
“The idea was to make humor without avoiding the social problems they are going through, to think about society in a different way.
The goal was not to push the limits of humor, but to be in the right place.
We live in a time where misunderstood political correctness doesn't let you explore some places, and we wanted to laugh at political correctness when it's hypocrisy,” he adds.
Misunderstood political correctness doesn't let you explore some places, we wanted to laugh at political correctness when it's hypocrisy
This peculiar fictional squad is made up of a blind man, a trans woman, another in a wheelchair, a Bolivian, a man with dwarfism, another with obesity and a Jew, as well as an instructor and coordinator with a prosthetic arm.
For the writing of the characters, they had the help of a trans scriptwriter, they spoke with the captain of the short-statured Argentine team, with an actor descendant of Bolivian parents... They also documented themselves with the security forces about what a guard could do urban and what not (in 2004 an urban guard was created in Buenos Aires, but the body was closed in 2008).
“They told us situations that are much more absurd than what fiction admits.
If you put that, nobody believes it ”, laughs the scriptwriter, who among the references that he has managed for the
He mentions series like
Curb Your Enthusiasm
, movies like
and the humor of Álex de la Iglesia's cinema.
Daniel Hendler, in 'Palermo Division'.Courtesy of Netflix
Although the jokes in the series could hurt multiple sensibilities, Korovsky assures that they have not received any complaints from people offended by their jokes, and even recalls that the series was mentioned at the UN within the disability committee as an example of visibility.
Also Netflix gave “quite a lot of freedom” to the creators.
“There were some indications at the beginning, such as that it is understood that the position of each character was the position of that specific character, not of the series.
Sometimes they said that you had to be careful with a joke, but I said, 'if the girl in the wheelchair says it' and they already saw it clearly”, explains Korovsky, who is already working on the second season of the series.
the limits of humor
Faced with the frequent debate about the limits of humor, this screenwriter has a clear position: of course, comedy has limits.
“Laughing at someone vulnerable and at a condition that they have and that they can't do anything to change it is a mistake.
Laughing at a tragedy that you haven't spent enough time processing is a mistake.
There are limits, it is common sense to realize where they are.
But times have changed, and we have all been learning what things we laugh at and what we don't, and we will continue learning.
But I think it's not the theme that sets limits, but rather where you stand on that theme.
It is not not talking about people with disabilities, but where you are located to make that humor.
If you're laughing at a problem or these people are the constant punchline of the joke because of their condition, that's a problem.
Hernán Cuevas and Martín Garabal, in the first season of 'División Palermo'. Tomás Francisco Cuesta/Netflix (Tomás Francisco Cuesta/Netflix)
is an example of how the maxim that humor does not travel well internationally is not always true because it is closely linked to the sociocultural context of each place.
“Netflix pushed us to do something that was local, contrary to what you might think about the platforms.
The idea is to start from the local and provide a vision of the world.
The beauty that we see are the particularities, when we see something Spanish, Mexican, Korean, we like to see the differences and similarities”, defends Korovsky, who is surprised to have received reactions and interview requests from places as varied as Brazil or Israel, where the series has been dubbed.
Living in Argentina is crazy.
With the reality that touches us, we have humor very close at hand
What does Argentine humor have in particular?
“There is an absurdity of the society in which we live that is already incredible in itself.
Living in Argentina is crazy, it takes you to a level of madness and strangeness that you just have to know where to put the magnifying glass.
There is a Latin American magical realism that surrounds us constantly, and it is better to laugh than cry.
We have that plus that is in the series: with the reality that touches us, we have humor very close at hand ”.
Santiago Korovsky, protagonist and creator of 'División Palermo'. Tomás Francisco Cuesta/Netflix (Tomás Francisco Cuesta/Netflix)
You can follow EL PAÍS TELEVISIÓN on
or sign up here to receive
our weekly newsletter