We’re living in a new golden age of television. All around the world, tons of great stories are being told on the small screen. While many viewers and critics tend to focus only on shows made in America or Great Britain, plenty of other countries are also sharing in this artistic boom. The Cook of Castamar is one such show, this Spanish TV series working its way to becoming a sleeper hit globally after getting a wider release. One reason for this is just how real and raw it all feels, which has led some viewers to wonder if the show might be based on a true story.
What is ‘The Cook of Castamar’?
Set in Madrid in 1720, The Cook of Castamar follows the love story between the Duke of Castamar (played by Roberto Enríquez) and humble cook Clara Belmonte (played by Michelle Jenner). Struggling with devastating personal losses, the two form an unlikely bond after Clara begins working for the Duke in his kitchen. After taking his first bite of her cooking, the pair become enmeshed in a sordid affair that breaks all sense of social norms and endangers both of them as a result.
The show keeps audiences on the edge of their seats with its gripping drama, beautiful cinematography, and heartbreaking story. Enríquez and Jenner as the leads are definitely the standouts here, their palpable chemistry and striking performances layered with pathos and nuance being a major point of acclaim for the series. While comparisons to other period shows like Bridgerton are understandable, the show can more than stand on its own feet.
The series’ origins come from literature
Regardless of what some popular rumors say, The Cook of Castamar is not based on real events. As confirmed by Looper, the main source of inspiration for the show was the book of the same name by Spanish author Fernando J. Muñez. While both the show and book make use of real historical figures to fill out the cast (most prominently King Philip V and Queen Isabel) and give some extra authenticity to the setting, the story at the center of everything is wholly original and not based on real people or events.
While the series may not be based on any specific real life event, though, history does greatly inform the story. The strict social hierarchy of 18th-century Spain is a bigger antagonist in the story than any villainous character could ever be, forcing the two lovers into secrecy for fear of the social and political backlash their union would face. This also holds true for many of the other characters featured in the show, too, their own secrets frequently leading back to this forced compliance with the social order. The period setting isn’t merely for aesthetics here and works to inform the themes of the show, as well as provide a point of commentary on modern society’s own class system viewed through the lens of historical drama.
International fans can stream episodes now
When it originally aired in Spain, The Cook of Castamar was broadcast on the subscription station Atresplayer Premium, and later on the free channel Antena 3. For all of us who weren’t able to catch it the first time around due to being in a different country, the full 12-episode series is now available to watch on Netflix. It’s already receiving rave reviews and is one of the most watched new releases of the year, so act fast before you’re inevitably hit by a wave of spoilers.
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