Seven episodes, seven years and seven characters saying goodbye to their audience. Cuéntame began on Sunday to say goodbye with the screening at the San Sebastian Festival of the first of the chapters of its brief final season. A good part of its cast and creators went to the Victoria Eugenia theater where the preview or, depending on how you look at it, the burial of the series took place. When the lights came on, there were tears and applause in the seats, occupied by a handful of the millions of followers who have been observing the future of Spain for more than 20 years through that of a family often very similar to theirs.
The fiction has spanned four decades of social change, such as the advancement of women's rights and freedom of expression. But for María Galiana, the grandmother of the Alcántaras, what Cuéntame has achieved is a very difficult synthesis: that the family represents a balance. "The conservatives saw us as extremely progressive and the progressives saw us as very conservative. We were showing a palpable reality, the rebujón in which we are all involved, "says shortly before the meeting with the public the Andalusian actress, who worked for years as a history teacher. In the end, all viewers have felt identified, he analyzes. "There is a generation that has seen in the series what it has lived and another that has seen just what it has not lived. That has been the key to our success."
'Tell me how it happened' ends the filming of its finale: emotion after 22 years of history
This latest batch of episodes will arrive on La 1 between late 2023 and early 2024. Its plots will cover specifically from 1994 to 2001, just the moment when fiction began to be broadcast on the public channel. In fact, it premiered two days after the September 11 attacks in New York. The move of the character of Carlitos to the Big Apple allows the series to make in these remaining chapters a continuous nod to the Twin Towers in a season that will pose a permanent meta-referential game. And that has caused Ricardo Gómez, who has dedicated himself in recent times to other projects, to return to the place from which an entire country saw him grow.
Each episode will be focused, as a farewell, on one of its main characters, the members of the Alcántara: the marriage of Mercedes and Antonio, grandmother Herminia and children Toni, Inés, Carlos and María. The first, entitled Mercedes: the force, places the family from the first moment in a maximum level of tension and drama, which will be developed in the remaining six deliveries, in which there will be a funeral and a conflictive inheritance. It focuses on the mother of the family, "representing that feminine strength, that intelligence, ability to overcome and generosity of so many women. She began as a wife who comes from the village to support her husband, with a fair education. But she ends up studying a career, creating her own business and reconciling with something that women still have to deal with today, unite family and professional life," says Ana Duato, who plays her on screen. This ending divided into seven parts is also the portrait of three generations of women: "Herminia, Mercedes' mother, serves as an ally and her daughter Inés, who is a revolutionary, is the one who opens her eyes to the world and to social changes," says the protagonist.
They are chapters designed to please fans of the series, advances its director Óscar Aibar before the audience of San Sebastian. From the tune to the final selection of great moments of its central character, each installment is a tribute to the intrahistory of this fiction. In addition to the farewell of the Alcántara, a second reading is perceived in these last scenes, that of the goodbye of some actors to their alter ego and to the companions with whom they have been part of an interpretive family, says Pablo Rivero, who has embodied at this time the eldest son of the saga. "The writers know us a lot as actors, they have made a journey with each character in which they have pressed the right keys," he argues.
Part of the cast of 'Cuéntame', with Imanol Airas in the foreground and María Galiana sitting in the center, at a moment of the first chapter of the last season. Irene Meritxell / RTVE
After more than 400 episodes recorded, María Galiana recognizes that there have been streaks of scripts that she considers weak. "Sometimes, we've had to shoehorn it through," he admits without hesitation. "We have done seasons of more than 20 chapters, when now the series do 8 or at most 13," Rivero comes to the rescue. " But this season is one of those inspired moments of writers and actors," she concedes. The cast celebrates that Cuéntame has not said goodbye to the Frenchwoman, since finally TVE has given him the opportunity to conceive an end for each of his protagonists. "The public that has accompanied us for so many years deserved a closure to match," says Duato.
The young Carmen Climent, the last to reach the cast playing Maria, the youngest daughter of the clan, has learned part of the history of Spain recreating it in the series. In these final chapters, its plot is connected with the murder of Miguel Ángel Blanco in 1997, when the Basque actress was just over a year old. Her parents have told her what they experienced during those days, she explains.
Much more than Francoism
As is often remembered, the script of the first pilot of Cuéntame was hanging around for years in the drawers of Spanish television. Ironies of life, the series had a hard time finding a chain because its directors could not imagine that the viewer of bipartisan Spain would be interested in following a series that addressed Francoism. They considered it to be an issue that fell far short of the concerns of the average citizen. "We told them that the project was much more than remembering Francoism," says Cristina Lago, from Ganga, the producer of the series.
In this time, as in all families, there have also been controversies and discussions, especially starring its actors. The definitive end of Cuéntame, at least for the moment, means closing a long stage that, once finished, has not left a void in Ana Duato. "The day after the recording ended I felt very fulfilled; satisfied with the work accomplished," she defends.
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