Completely new to the series? Check out our review of Cable Girls episode 1 first!
After a delightful first episode, the next two hours of Cable Girls (or Las Chicas Del Cable) took the smart step of zooming out from our primary protagonist and spending more time on developing surrounding characters. It bodes well for the rest of the episodes, since this approach demonstrates a commitment to really creating a tangible setting, rather than just a simple main story. Watch out if you haven’t seen these episode yet – spoilers ahead!
In episode 2, Lidia, or Alba as we might as well now call her, is desperately trying to preserve her true identity. Caught stealing at the end of episode 1, her childhood love and current boss Francisco now has to make the choice of outing her or keeping up with the facade despite the risk to his business. It’s clear he’s never managed to move on, and a dramatic shot at the end of the second episode shows that Alba probably hasn’t either.
Around this couple, the lives of their companions, spouses and colleagues are becoming more tangled. Carlotta finds a new interesting connection with her manager when they meet at a women’s rights meeting, whilst the adorably shy Marga meets the similarly quiet Pablo. In one particularly delightful scene, Marga, encouraged by Carlotta, gets rather tipsy and posts a letter detailing her real feelings to her new crush. We’ve all been there before, albeit through texts rather than paper and pens, and her hungover realisation the next morning is very sweet and funny. Fortunately, Oscar Isaac-lookalike Pablo seems besotted in return. That’s another great thing about Cable Girls – this is easily the most photogenic cast I’ve seen in a long time, and although it’s shallow, they all just look so brilliant in the 1920s garb, despite the modern music still coming across as a little jarring.
Whilst these high jinks and new connections are lighthearted and fun, Cable Girls isn’t afraid to go for high drama. We see Angeles told by her colleagues about her husband’s devastating affair at work, and it’s dealt with in a way that is realistically complex. Instead of raging at her domineering husband, Angeles turns on Alba and Marga in her shock. It’s not a satisfying situation to watch, but it fits perfectly and understandably with Angeles’ desperate denial of the truth, and her fear of her husband.
Likewise, although it’s tempting to root for the reconciliation between Alba and Francisco, Francisco has a wife at home who is devoted to him. It only comes through in insinuations so far, but she may also have some complex past issues which leaves her emotionally vulnerable. In just the few scenes she’s appeared in so far, it’s hard not to worry about the impact on her, even if Alba and Francisco seem destined to be together.
At the heart of this still, is Alba. She’s the perfect lead character – whilst it’s easy for the main figure to become dull when surrounded by a vivid ensemble cast, Alba is fascinating for her many masquerades. In every scene, we don’t truly know what she’s feeling. She still creates tall tales to convince her colleagues of support, flirts with Carlos casually and obsesses over Francisco before pushing him away. Alba isn’t always likeable, but she comes with a complex backstory that we’re still learning. It’s easy to understand that while you may not agree with her actions now, there’s undoubtedly a host of reasons behind everything she does. She’s ideal for leading the series.
Cable Girls, with its modern music, elegant clothing and slightly soapy melodrama, may just seem like frivolous entertainment. However, it excels shallow aesthetics with great acting, fascinating characters and a tightly written script that isn’t afraid to show real complexity in the nature of relationships. It’s also taken the wise move of expanding the supporting cast, making every scene as vibrant as the next.