Here we are. Cable Girls 5B. The last few episodes. El fin.
It’s hard to end a show, let’s start there. No matter what you do, there will be a faction of fans who aren’t happy. Happy ending? Why? That’s cliché! Tragic ending? Why? We deserve happiness? Pick one half of the love triangle? WHY? The other one was clearly better!
So, in many ways, there was really no way for Cable Girls 5B to win. Not with the setup it gave us, not with a show that, at least for its first two – superior – seasons, sold us soapy drama with a backdrop of feminism and the backbone of female friendships.
The problem, of course, it’s that it’s been years since Cable Girls has been that show.
It first tried to put an end to the love triangle by having Lidia end up pregnant with Carlos’ kid. Then there was a wedding, and a season of them presumably being “happy” together. Except they never dared to commit, so Francisco remained in the periphery, looking like a better choice (despite the unfortunate mustache of the last season) with every passing second.
Then Francisco was hurt saving Eva, the aforementioned kid, and that caused Lidia to reevaluate her feelings. This was, of course, made easy by the fact that Carlos didn’t trust Lidia enough to tell her the truth. And so, the definite choice Lidia made changed and now she was with Francisco. Forever. That’s it. Final.
I mean, I guess in the end it was final, there was nowhere for the show to go after offing Carlos in 5A, and really, no way for the show to go after having Lidia and Francisco leave Spain together, raise a family, and presumably find the love they had for each other once again.
And I’m not going to be the one to say that the final season was missing the love triangle – I hate love triangles with a passion, and had it been up to me Lidia would have never left Francisco in season 2, pregnant with Carlos’ kid or not. But the problem is the show revolved around a love triangle for two seasons, and then not only did it try to switch gears, it resolved the love triangle, in favor of one man, and then the other, and yet somehow managed to give fans of either couple almost no payoff.
If you loved her with Carlos, well, you got a wedding, and a kid together, a life ….and yet, did you ever get to see them truly happy? If you loved her with Francisco you got exactly the same, and many more years, presumably enough for her to be able to refer to their “infinite love” in the penultimate episode, and yet, did you get to enjoy them together?
The answer, in both instances, is no.
This, again, wouldn’t have been a problem if this show hadn’t hyped up this damn love triangle so much, if they hadn’t told us that this show was, at least in a little part, about that kind of love. Because, as the story of five women, and what it meant for them to be who they wanted to be, in the backdrop of the Spain of the 20’s and 30’s, this show not only worked really well, it had, dare I say, the only ending it could possibly have.
But, even though, as a critic, as someone who lived in Spain and learned about the Civil War, and even as someone who appreciates a well told story, I can understand why this is the perfect bookend, and how important to tell a story that is about women first and foremost, and about friendship second, as a viewer, one who believed the hype and got invested in the lives of these characters, I cannot help but feel disappointed.
Disappointed that Lidia didn’t get the happy ending she fought so hard for.
Disappointed that Marga could barely spend time with her newborn.
Disappointed that Carlota and Oscar didn’t get to find out what a life together could truly look like.
Disappointed that these women couldn’t usher a new era together.
But mostly, disappointed that even the good stuff the show gave us, they gave us off screen. Have you ever heard the saying “show, don’t tell”? Well, Cable Girls told us, over and over again, that these women had moments of happiness in their personal lives, that they had families that were worth sacrificing everything, including their lives for.
They just never showed us.
And so the last shot, as powerful as it is, will remain bittersweet. You can only do an ending like that one and have it feel earned if the audience truly believes not just that there’s no there’s no other way, but that the sacrifice was worth it.
We’ve been told both, and we believe neither. And that’s where Cable Girls failed us – and the story they were trying to tell.
Agree? Disagree? Share with us in the comments below!
Cable Girls is available to stream on Netflix in its entirety.