Ó Negocio – Season 1
Latin-American productions are increasing lately and for the region cable channels, premiering them first is a higher priority than the USA/UK shows they air later during the year, which is understandable despite my lack of care regarding most of them (except for certain ones produced by HBO). The only channel in Latin America airing live USA/UK shows is HBO, but only since 2012 because of the massive fandoms Game of Thrones and True Blood boasts.
In the case of HBO’s Ó Negocio (The Business), this one gets top priority airing over Boardwalk Empire, which really drew my ire at first considering I was looking forward to its 4th season a lot and it premiered one month after its USA premiere and (to the HBO Latin America channel) it’s also a lesser priority than Chile’s Prófugos. However, Ó Negocio‘s premise of combining marketing and prostitution worked well enough for me to spend my time around it — after all, I liked watching Secret Diary of a Call Girl and Hung. The show turned out to be a big winner in Latin America and it quickly secured itself a second season to air next year, an unusual move considering HBO’s Latin-American shows take 2 years in premiering the folowing season.
Ó Negocio has an easy set up. The show takes place in São Paulo and follows Karin (Rafaela Mandelli), a 31-year-old prostitute who is looking towards her future and cuts her working relationship with her pimp/booker Ariel (Guilherme Weber) in order to start her own high-class escort company and secure herself financially because she’s getting older. Karin is not alone in this as she is joined by her best friend (and prostitute) Luna (Juliana Schalch) and not-yet-prostitute Magali (Michelle Batista). Together, the three start working on company Oceano Azul (Blue Ocean) and try giving the world’s oldest profession a different spin by applying marketing strategies in order to secure very rich clients, upgrade their profits and accomplish their individual goals: for Magali, it’s improving her economical situation and living a glamorous lifestyle; for Karin, it’s securing her future; for Luna, however, she just wants to marry a millionaire and everything else will work itself out.
Yes, there’s lots of sex scenes from the three girls in here. But that’s not the only things Ó Negocio showcases. The three women seem strong and independent at first sight who are willing to apply strategies and risks that comes with starting a business, but they also have their share of personal problems too. Magali’s just avoiding the hard times she had before arriving to the city while Karin has to deal with most of the business-related stuff and now she has Ariel as an enemy while there’s also her on/off relationship with the womanizing childhood friend Augusto (João Gabriel Vasconcelos). For Luna, the show’s narrator, she makes her family believe she has a normal life by hanging around with Yuri (Johnnas Oliva) as her fake boyfriend. But later on, she falls for Oscar (Gabriel Godoy), who at first fullfills her dreams, but later turned out to be someone else.
Ó Negocio is hit-and-miss as a show due to its comedy value, slow pacing and uneven treatment of its supporting characters — Ariel seems lacking some spice as the show’s main antagonist — but at least the rise of Oceano Azul doesn’t get tedious to watch unlike the first seasons of business-driven shows such as How To Make It In America… or if you want a worse example, 2 Broke Girls… or Preamar if you want a local example. Also, São Paulo didn’t felt as engaging to watch compared to 2008’s Alice. However, the business approach was interesting to watch and the sex scenes were tasteful, yet the strongest episodes were the ones showcasing the backstories of Karin and Luna while balancing the comedy, risks on business decisions and sex aspects of the show. Acting-wise, the three girls are fine, but Juliana Schlach’s Luna stands out better than everyone else in spite of Karin being the central protagonist.
Overall, Ó Negocio has been a better than expected watch for me. The season finale didn’t work that well for me given the incidents of the past episode that takes away some power from Season 1’s final scene, but it should lead to a more interesting path for Season 2 anyways.