Issue 28 – Money Heist — The Perfectly Imperfect Crimes

By Viola Chan and Vincy Ng (ELED Year 1 students 2020-21)

You may be in the middle of the school year now, busy with schoolwork, but don’t forget to take some time to relax. Here’s a TV show recommendation! It is called “Money Heist”, a Spanish TV series streaming on Netflix.

Inspired by some real-life money heists, the story started with a criminal mastermind named “Professor” who wanted to pull off the biggest heist in the world. He recruited eight people and had them named after eight cities. The series kicks off with the ambitious heist targeting the Royal Mint of Spain. It emphasizes the interactions between the robbers and the hostages, the strong resilience of the robbers and the Professor, and the conflict between the robbers and authority. Despite the malicious nature of the robbery, the public (and the audience) found themselves siding with the robbers and supporting them throughout the show. They were deemed as modern days “Robin Hood” because the heist was like a redistribution of wealth, an attempt to resist authority and the unfairness of the society. Although plans made by the Professor appeared to be flawless and comprehensive, problems emerged every few days. The robbers made mistakes, the hostages fought back, and with the police force plotting against them – things did not go as planned. The Professor was forced to improvise. Despite all the chaos and a few losses, the heist was successful and the robbers were able to escape by the end of Season Two. It leads to the Third Season of the show, where one of them was caught after making a mistake. Hoping to save the member, the Professor decided to perform a heist he was reluctant to carry out because it was too difficult. He gathered all the robbers and told them the plan to rob the Bank of Spain. He wished to use this as a way to provide the police with a chance to catch all of them and bargain for the release of the member. With a new and more ruthless inspector, the team was forced to be more extreme and they were all mentally challenged. Things continue to go wrong, and the show is yet to continue.

Undoubtedly, with the Professor’s intelligence, the plans for the heists were seamless, and before actually watching it, you may think that it is a series that aims at showing you a perfect, satisfying heist. However, this show is nothing like that. It was messy, frustrating and unpredictable and was a perfect example that one can never calculate humanity. People’s feelings are the most complicated things in this world and there is no way we can control them. The Professor specifically told the members that there should be no relationships between them and he expected them not to get attached to one another, not even friendships. Failing to consider humanity, the detailed plans were quick to fall apart. For instance, one of the hostages fell in love with one of the robbers during the heist. This is a typical example of Stockholm Syndrome in psychology, in which the victim empathizes with their captor or abuser as well as their goal. The robber also fell in love with this hostage, leading to conflicts among the members. There was also a relationship between two of the robbers, and it eventually led to many problems in the heist. Ultimately, this message and chaos make the show famous and worth watching. It is realistic and down to earth, letting the audience understand the emotions behind every mistake they made.

Here is a fun fact – throughout the show, you may wonder why you cannot help but side with the robbers. According to psychologist Fiona Murden, this is because by watching them for four seasons straight, we see what they are thinking and the reasons behind their actions. We eventually start to resonate with them and have bias towards them, to a point where we start to overlook their fault. In fact, the psychology behind is similar to Stockholm Syndrome. It is also related to the way our brain is made up, such that we see the good in the people we are in a group with, and it possibly helps with survival.

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