Once upon a time, Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino made a scary (?), campy movie together called From Dusk Till Dawn. It followed the Gecko brothers, post bank-robbery, as they try to escape to Mexico. On the way, they kidnap the Fuller family, thinking that the use of an American family and their RV will make it easier to cross the border. Once in Mexico, they find themselves at a strip club called The Titty Twister, which turns out to be filled to the brim with snake-vampires, called culebras. Hilarity undoubtedly ensues.
Fast-forward to 2014. Robert Rodriguez decides to give From Dusk Till Dawn a new interpretation for the 21st century. Instead of a movie, it’s broken up into a 10 episode first season, following the original plot of the film. In ten episodes on the El Rey network, FDTD went from campy horror to brilliant, must-watch television. And there’s a season 2, which
All of season 1 is on Netflix, just waiting for you to watch. Season 2 started on August 30th, 2015. And let me just say: it’s been a wild freaking ride. We’ve got four episodes left in season 2, but today, The El Rey network is marathoning the first six episodes, starting at 12PM EST. In honor of that, here’s six reasons you should absolutely tune in.
1. It doesn’t sacrifice intelligence for action
Since the original film could easily be described as a “roadhouse bloodbath,” FDTD of has to stay pretty gory to stay true to tone. And oh boy, does it. Decapitations, serial murders, mass graves; if it’s been an ID TV special, it’s probably going to show up on FDTD. And yes, sometimes they do feel gory for gore’s sake, but it certainly doesn’t take away from the show. In fact, you may find yourself looking forward to the show’s over the top moments. FDTD is a show that understands its genre. Showrunners are well aware that gore is a part of the package. But that doesn’t mean we’re not treated weekly to a sharp plot, well-rounded characters, and exciting twists! We get more than just horror or action. We get an beautiful, fully-formed TV show.
2. Despite the darker tone, it’s usually hilarious
There’s a lot of terrible, terrible stuff going down on FDTD. There are moments that are gasp out loud horrifying (a particular vision Freddie had this week comes to mind.) But the cast is so electric and the writing is so good that you’re actually laughing more often than you’d think. The brothers themselves are comedic gold, especially when they work together. And Richie gets plenty of quips in (Lugosi. Bella Lugosi) without it coming on too strong. That can be a delicate balance (oh hi, AoU,) but FDTD nails it every time.
3. Few other shows have as much heart
At its core, this is a show about family. So despite the blood and chainsaws and vampires, you’re going to get a lot of family bonding. From the brotherhood of Seth (DJ Cotrona) and Richie (Zane Holtz) to Seth and Richie forcing themselves into the arms of the Fuller Family, you’re going to end up wondering when these crazy kids are stopping at the side of the road for McDonalds. And in season 2, when the dynamics shift, we still get crazy amounts of empathy and bonding. And blood. Who would’ve thought?
4. Complex issues are treated as such, by the writers and the characters
It’s not all fun and games and family. We’ve got a lot of really tough meat to get through, and it’s not easy. Santanico Panedmonium (Eiza Gonzales) suffers the aftermath of being abused and sexually assaulted for literally hundreds of years. Seth suffers from drug addiction and childhood abuse from the hands of his father. Kate Fuller (Madison Davenport) is likely suffering from PTSD.
But guess what? The show is not faulting a single character for their problems. Because faulting someone and understanding them, as any good writer knows, are two different things.
5. It’s one of the most pro-women shows on TV
The worst thing you can be in the FDTD universe is a rapist.
This is a world of killers. This is a world of liars. Everyone has done several violent and regrettable things.
But the worst thing, the most unforgivable thing, is rape. Is sexual abuse. Is the treatment of women as inferior, or as objects.
And this is not a show that bills itself as feminist. That doesn’t mean it isn’t; it most certainly is. But the word is rarely thrown around.
That doesn’t mean, though, that the writers and cast members don’t fully support well-rounded female characters.
And let me tell you something. The idea of a “strong female character” is beneath FDTD. Because that can often be a one sided idea. If a woman throws punches, then it doesn’t matter that she’s constantly subservient and answering to a man, right?
Wrong. FDTD fully understands that this is wrong.
It’s beautiful. It’s amazing. And there has been absolutely no graphic rape, which has become a rarity in the action genre.
I could go on. But I’ll spare you. BUT TRUST ME. It is that good.
6. You will root for the characters on this show, and you will not be able to stop
Let me list our cast for you. We’ve got two con men, one of which is a full-blown culebra. We have Santanico, an actual minor deity that I affectionately call “Snakemom.” You have Freddie Gonzales (Jesse Garcia), who could probably get on the bid for sainthood if he could just GET IT TOGETHER. Kate, the preacher’s daughter who is always armed and dangerous, and her brother Scott Fuller (Brandon Soo Woo), also a culebra, who may or may not have just ritualistically murdered an entire lacrosse team.
There are knockout minor characters as well. Paolma Gutierrez (Alicia Sanz) is Santanico’s young protigée/metaphor, and is sort of like if a fairytale princess got stuck in… well, From Dusk Till Dawn. And Sonja Lam (Briana Evigan), who’s currently Seth’s girlfriend, has more than a few aces up her sleeves. Also catch the lovely Adrianne Palicki in early season one as Seth’s ex wife, Vanessa Styles.
Side note: Wilmer Valderama hits it out the park every week as Carlos, even if Carlos isn’t really one of the characters to root for. He’s kind of… well, terrible.
If I had to describe these characters in one word, I’d pick “tragic.” But not like, in the way Romeo and Juliet is tragic. More like in the way one would unironically wear a muscle shirt. Because you know who would unironically wear a muscle shirt?
The goddamn Gecko brothers.
And isn’t that just the most endearing thing?
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