• 'Perfect Life' (Supplied)Source: Supplied
If you’re looking for three women navigating sex and the city in the 21st century, this Spanish comedy is the one to watch.
By
Anthony Morris

7 Dec 2021 - 9:13 AM  UPDATED 7 Dec 2021 - 9:13 AM

María (Leticia Dolera) is sure she’s got life all worked out. She’s in her 30s and things have settled down into a nice, safe… well, she’d call it a groove, but not everyone around her agrees. Her partner Gustavo (David Verdaguer) for one, which is a problem as they’re about to sign a 30-year lease on an apartment.

“It’s 25 years” she says, which is side-stepping the big issue: he calls her the most rigid person he knows, points out that she wanted to have an enema before they tried anal sex – which is news to the notary who’s meant to be witnessing their signing – and that they haven’t had sex since. Nor does it seem likely they will any time soon, as he walks out without signing anything.

As opening scenes go, this sets up Perfect Life… well, perfectly. It’s smart, it’s funny, it’s a little bit confronting: for a comedy that seems like a Spanish language sequel to Girls (and Sex and the City before that), it strikes exactly the right note (and is probably why it won the Best Series Award at Cannes). It’s also clearly something of a mission statement for the series: having staked out just how far it’s willing to go, it is content to settle back just a little and let the comedy unfold naturally.

 

That becomes clear when we meet Cristina (Celia Freijeiro). She’s María’s best friend, and she’s struggling with a relationship problem of her own, only this time it’s too much sex that’s the problem. Well, the sex isn’t the problem – it’s that her husband Pablo (Font García) thinks they’re trying for a third child (he really wants a boy after two girls), and she’s secretly taking birth control because as far as she’s concerned, two kids is it. This is definitely the kind of issue that’s going to cause problems once Pablo finds out.

Meanwhile, the newly single María turns up on the doorstep of her physically older but emotionally far younger sister Esther (Aixa Villagrán). She’s an artist who’s having trouble getting inspired; what she does do is inspire María to make some changes in her life. So María cuts her hair, takes some ecstasy, and heads out to the birthday party of Cristina’s older daughter. A sexy romp with younger man Gari (Enric Auquer) in a bouncy castle, some conversation with her two closest friends about where their lives have gone wrong, and it seems like a fun night to remember. Then seven weeks later, María discovers she’s seven weeks pregnant.

 

Created by co-star Leticia Dolera, Perfect Life isn’t exactly a one-woman show, but it comes close. Together with Manuel Burque, Dolera has written every episode (comprising eight in season 1, six in season 2). She also directed five episodes in the first season and four in the second. All this comes through in the funny, firmly feminist finished product. It’s the kind of comedy where the characters’ diverse approaches to life feel like they’ve come from lived experience, and it definitely doesn’t hurt that the three leads have great chemistry together.

The rest of the first season charts Maria’s pregnancy in warts-and-all fashion, mining the more confronting side of her condition for laughs even as it refuses to fall into the usual cliches. All three leads are looking to reinvent themselves; while María’s path to motherhood seems straightforward, Cristina has to figure out who she’s going to be if not a mother, and Esther – who’s gay, single and pushing 40 in an art world that’s always looking for the next new thing – also has some tough questions to face.

 

Season 2 pushes things even further, with María now a mother, Cristina looking at moving into an open relationship, and Esther faced with the terrifying new world of commitment.

There are some big issues being tackled in Perfect Life, and the series doesn’t flinch from them. But taking life seriously doesn’t mean you can’t laugh at it. These three women have a lot on their plate, but they’ve got each other, and a strong sense of humour about it all, even when things get rough. It’s warm, it’s funny, it’s got heart – and a few jokes about pregnancy haemorrhoids as well. 

Perfect Life seasons 1 and 2 are now streaming on SBS On Demand.

Follow the author @morrbeat

 

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