Sex sells as long as it’s backed by competent marketing strategy, in Brazil’s audacious dramedy—O Negocio.
Jeremy Cassar

14 Oct 2016 - 9:57 AM  UPDATED 14 Oct 2016 - 10:15 AM

SBS’s radar beeped wildly when we were introduced to O Negocio, Brazil’s feisty series about upscale sex work in the wealthy side of Sao Paulo.

Loosely translated to ‘The Business”, the NSFW Portuguese-language dramedy is a pleasure to behold—finding both biting comedy and genuine emotion in a story that’s basically about selling sex.

Like the creators of SBS’s previous find, France’s Hard, O Negocio’s Luca Paiva Mello and Rodrigo Castilho have tackled issues of prostitution through setting the story in the comparatively empowering high-class industry, as opposed to on the street, which was obviously a wise choice.

Here are just a few of the reasons we recommend you give O Negocio a go.

The set-up

Three women, each disillusioned with their lives in a particular way, decide to pool their wits and college degrees, joining forces to create a high-class prostitution service. Drawing on modern marketing theory, Karin (Rafaela Mandelli), Luna (Juliana Schalch) and Magali (Michelle Batista), the three set to conquer the lucrative upper echelons of the industry.

Clever episode framework

Each episode of O Negocio is framed by a marketing strategy the three leads choose to employ to their nighttime enterprise. This gives the episodes a sense of order, and allows audience members to anticipate what these women will do next.  

The entrepreneurial trio

Karin is the rational center of the three leads, and is gung-ho on the endeavor purely for future financial security. Luna’s concerns are more immediate, no longer wanting to mooch off her parents.

Magali is the youngest and most unpredictable of the trio. She’s attracted to the glitz and glamour of the high life and isn’t overly phased by her new profession as long as it gets her what she wants.

The three are business partners, friends and confidants, and though their personalities clash, they manage to always reach some semblance of harmony.

Unique take on sex work

Mandelli, who plays group leader Karin, revealed to LatinPost how O Negocio negotiates its sticky terrain:

“The interesting thing about the characters is that they are not victims, this line of work was just another option for them, the series is not exalting nor making an apology for prostitution, but we are showing the side of girls in luxury that actually exists.”

HBO is behind it

O Negocio was snapped up by none other than HBO Latin America, and thanks to the network’s pedigree you can expect a certain level of quality.

The network’s Vice President Miguel Angel Oliva explained HBO’s choice:

“For HBO, this series has all the elements to become a success, it will make you reflect, it has the strong language and sex; it's an issue that can only be addressed here.”

Well, there and here at SBS.

If you’re even a smidge daring, then you’re going to love O Negocio. Watch the first half of season one on SBS On Demand, with the entire first season available soon.

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