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This edited volume examines the historical, political, cultural, and aesthetic implications of re-visiting Restoration Spain (1874-1931) in television costume dramas produced since 2000. Contributors analyze, from different theoretical approaches and disciplinary perspectives, the appeal that the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries hold for twenty-first-century Spanish audiences, as well as for international viewers who consume these programs through new media platforms. Themes and issues explored include: the production of televisual heritage, representations of period technologies, evolving constructions of gender, hybridization of television genres, and television as historian. Expanding the scope of inquiry in Spanish media studies, this collection seeks to bring Spain into wider discussions of media and historical representation and visual and material culture in Europe, the Americas, and beyond.



Chapter 1. Introduction

In this introduction, George and Tang trace the history of televisual representations of the Restoration period (1874–1931) from the classic adaptations of nineteenth-century Realist literary masterpieces, largely produced during the Transition to democracy, to the current spate of original television fictions. The authors explore twenty-first-century producers’ and viewers’ continued fascination with the Restoration as a visually pleasing historical setting that is furthermore considered the birthplace of Spanish modernity in terms of politics, regional identities, class relations, gender dynamics, and artistic and technological innovation. The introduction additionally offers pedagogical uses for the analyses contained in the edited volume Televising Restoration Spain, and outlines individual chapter content.
David R. George, Wan Sonya Tang

Producing Heritage


Chapter 2. Fortunata’s Long Shadow: The Restoration as Televisual Heritage in Acacias 38 and El Secreto de Puente Viejo

In this chapter, David George proposes a reading of costume dramas Acacias 38 (2015–) and El secreto de Puente Viejo (2015–) as “heritage revival” in the sense that both bring the past back to life in a format that substitutes surface spectacle for historical understanding. Key to understanding the possible significance of the late Restoration for contemporary audiences, he argues, is a consideration of how Acacias and Puente Viejo revivify the period as televisual heritage. His “close-reading” of storytelling and historical references reveals how these daily serials appeal to collective memories of depictions of the period created for television during the Transition and Post-Transition (1975–1992), considered to be the golden age of quality television in Spain.
David R. George

Chapter 3. Profane Unions: Constructing Heritage from Anarchist-Bourgeois Romances in Ull per ull and Barcelona, ciutat neutral

Elena Cueto Asín examines the integration of anarchist history into Catalan heritage through anarchist-bourgeois romances in the Televisió de Catalunya miniseries: Ull per ull (2010) and Barcelona, ciutat neutral (2011). The dramas differ in their presentation of political and social struggles, and connections to local, national, and international events; however, as Cueto observes, both programs participate in recovering a heritage of social cohesion based on the union between two diametrically opposite forces in Catalan society of the late Restoration period. In both stories, a member Barcelona’s industrial bourgeoisie renounces money and privilege to identify with the ideology and ethics of the anarchists. She argues that these plotlines mark anarchism as a “museumizable” ideology that is conveniently absorbed as heritage, and so incorporated into Catalan identity.
Elena Cueto Asín

Imagining Technologies


Chapter 4. New Technologies and Transmedia Storytelling in Víctor Ros: Captivating Audiences at the Turn of the Century

This chapter examines the transmedia storytelling strategy of Televisión Española (TVE) series Víctor Ros, which was broadcasted from 2014 to 2016. The authors study the expansion of the series’ transmedia universe across the show’s two seasons, examining in particular how various media platforms work to connect contemporary audiences with the Restoration period portrayed on-screen. The chapter notes in particular the mix of history and fiction throughout the series’ transmedia materials and concludes that this combination engages users as active participants in piecing together both Victor Ros’s story and Restoration history itself.
Mónica Barrientos Bueno, Ángeles Martínez García

Chapter 5. From Photography to Forensics: Technology, Modernity, and the Internationalization of Spanish History in Gran Hotel

In this chapter, Tang examines the role of turn-of-the-century technologies within the narrative and staging of the international hit series Gran Hotel (Grand Hotel; Bambú Producciones, 2011–2013). As she argues, on-screen period technology serves to familiarize global audiences with Restoration Spain in three key ways: firstly, by refuting the long-standing stereotype of Spain as a historically backward nation; secondly, by highlighting universally familiar themes of Restoration society, such as class conflict or the modernizing impulse; and finally, by appealing to twenty-first-century technophiles who recognize the importance of technological innovation in their own lives. Tang concludes that through these functions, the technology featured in Gran Hotel serves to present the Restoration period as a universally legible and visually appealing setting.
Wan Sonya Tang

Constructing Genders


Chapter 6. Dresses, Cassocks, and Coats: Costuming Restoration Gender Fantasies in La Señora

In his chapter, Wolters analyzes the wardrobe used to “dress up” the protagonists and narrative of TVE’s award-winning series La Señora (2008–2010). In its reimagining of the final years of the Bourbon Restoration, the show reanimates the past in the form of well-established gender tropes like the fashionable heiress and the enamored priest canonized in texts like Clarín’s La Regenta. By focusing on mise-en-scène and dialogues with Restoration texts, Wolters argues that the TVE drama candidly transforms nineteenth- and early twentieth-century aesthetics to satisfy the expectations of its twenty-first-century audiences. However, even as La Señora revises and reimagines Restoration gender tropes with its predominantly non-literary source material and an eye to contemporary aesthetic concerns, Wolters concludes that the show’s creators nostalgically embrace their literary-visual precedents.
Nicholas Wolters

Chapter 7. “Las normas son para romperlas”: Emilia Pardo Bazán, Carmen de Burgos, and the Unruly Women of Seis Hermanas

Willem examines how the 2015–2017 Spanish television series, Seis hermanas, set in Madrid from 1913 through 1916, draws on the lives and writings of two of the era’s strongest proponents of women’s rights, Emilia Pardo Bazán and Carmen de Burgos, to explore the social and legal situation of women in Restoration society, and to raise such issues as gender and class barriers, spousal abuse, infidelity, divorce, and lesbianism. The writings of Pardo Bazán and Burgos justify the transgressive actions of the sisters as they defy social and legal norms in pursuit of personal freedom and self-actualization. Furthermore, these women writers serve as a bridge to today’s television viewer whose twenty-first-century perspective validates their ideas that were once considered radical but are now accepted.
Linda M. Willem

Restoring the Telenovela


Chapter 8. Bandolera: Limits and Possibilities of Period Telenovelas

López performs a close analysis of the television series Bandolera (Diagonal TV, 2011–2013) as a case study of the evolution of the telenovela genre within the global entertainment market of the twenty-first century. She identifies the ideological thrust—liberal social politics—driving the story as well as conspicuous parallels between the time represented onscreen (1882–1887) and that of the show’s broadcast (2011–2013) in terms of class conflict, gender issues, and gay rights. Lopez shows that while the setting provides a credible backdrop for the bandolero theme and generates certain storylines, Bandolera does not engage the past significantly. Rather, the past functions mostly as a scrim for the representation of traditional telenovela conflicts that draw large audiences in the present, securing marketability for the product.
Francisca López

Chapter 9. Creating Locally for a Global Audience: Seis hermanas and the Costume Serial Drama as Quality Television

This chapter analyzes the Spanish daytime serial Seis hermanas (2015–2017) as an example of the renewal process experienced by local television fictions since the 2008 economic crisis. The author shows how, with this rare foray into the daytime serial genre, the successful independent company Bambú Producciones devoted a lot of effort to creating a quality program with above average production values, with a special emphasis on elements of the mise-en-scène such as locations and sets. Cascajosa also argues that Seis hermanas updates the British costume drama formula with a progressive vision of social change, seen in its reception by the online LGTBQ community. The chapter includes fragments of personal interviews with script coordinator Verónica Fernández and series co-creator Gema R. Neira.
Concepción Cascajosa Virino

Sensing the Ending


Chapter 10. Commercializing Nostalgia and Constructing Memory in As leis de Celavella

In this chapter, Gil Poisa examines how the Televisión de Galicia series As leis de Celavella (2004–2006) reshapes the memory of the Restoration by building a fictional continuity between the political order of the period and the later Francisco Franco dictatorship. She studies how the Primo de Rivera dictatorship is viewed through the lens of rural Galician life in the 1920s that appeals to the audience’s cultural identification and produces nostalgia for a non-remembered past. The series includes references to history, but as the author explains, these do not alter the nature of Celavella. The result, she suggests, is a softened image of the politically instability of the period that promotes a memory of historical continuum in which the Second Republic is merely an interruption.
María Gil Poisa

Chapter 11. “Felices años veinte?”: Las chicas del cable and the Iconicity of 1920s Madrid

This essay analyzes the Netflix original series Las chicas del cable in relation to the dominant image of 1920s Madrid in Spanish cultural memory. Harkema argues that, unlike other recent Spanish dramas, this program engages critically with the historiographical representation of the period in which it is set. Its presentation of the 1920s as thoroughly contemporary ultimately subverts the mythologiziation of a decade often remembered as the last, idyllic moment of cultural openness before the Spanish Civil War. By depicting pervasive sexism, domestic violence, and the precarious political order of the 1920s in Spain alongside references to the elite cultural circles most commonly associated with these years, Las chicas del cable offers a new perspective that complicates Spanish culture’s nostalgia for “los felices años veinte.”
Leslie J. Harkema

Chapter 12. The End of the Restoration: A Vision from the Early Second Republic in 14 de abril. La República

On April 14, 1931, the Second Republic was proclaimed in Spain. It is this time of change and transformation that serves as the backdrop for the television series 14 de abril. La Republica, whose first season is set in the months following the 14 April proclamation. This chapter provides a detailed analysis of the drama and a study of its historical accuracy in order to understand how the characters in the series experience this new period and perceive the new Spain they are in the process of creating. As Gómez observes, the unresolved problems of the Restoration caused numerous political and social divisions during the years of the Republic, such that it is impossible to understand one historical period without studying the other.
Iván Gómez García


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