‘Muertos SL’ sprinkles daily life in a funeral home with black humor | Television

The actor Carlos Areces has a collection of about 150 photographs in his home post mortem which in 2021 he compiled in a book. There is possibly no more appropriate person to lead the cast of a comedy set in a funeral home. “My relationship with death, I suppose, is like most people’s: it obsesses me and terrifies me,” says the actor, sitting in the cafeteria of this fake funeral home. “It is a topic that intrigues and fascinates me, but I do not have any type of metaphysical or transcendent thought, I believe that this is what it is and then it ends, which tinges everything with a certain bitterness, but what are we going to do about it?” , he reflected last week during the lunch break during the filming of the second season of Muertos SL

Areces is dressed in the uniform of Dámaso, the diligent (and somewhat mean) manager of the Torregrosa funeral home; a climber who, when the owner of the company dies, sees before him the option of promotion, a possibility cut short when the widow of his former boss takes over, a woman who knows nothing about the operation of this peculiar SME.

Muertos SL is the new comedy created by Alberto and Laura Caballero together with Daniel Deorador, Julián Sastre, Nando Abad and Araceli Álvarez de Sotomayor. The eight episodes of its first season premiere on Movistar Plus+ on April 4 while its second batch of episodes finishes filming these days. In the warehouse of an industrial estate in Navalcarnero (Madrid) they have recreated a funeral home with great detail. So much so that some members of the team crossed themselves when they entered the first days. The reception connects with several rooms for wakes, a cafeteria and a multi-denominational room. Two floors below are the funeral home offices, the director’s office (now director), the cold rooms, the crematorium oven and the thanatopraxy room. Everything is equipped with real material. The scriptwriters did extensive research, visiting funeral homes to take note of a very little-known work. A tanatopractor has helped them with the equipment and to place and learn how to handle the material, and was present on the set every time in the first season they filmed scenes in the thanatopraxy room.

Carlos Areces, Aitziber Garmendia, Gerald B. Fillmore, Adriana Torrebejano and Salva Reina, in ‘Muertos SL’.Manuel Fiestas Moreno

Those responsible for The one that is coming, The village y Alpha males They wanted to set their next comedy in a work environment. The Office It is a series that is mentioned several times in the interviews for this report. “We wanted to talk about the Spanish SME. 80% of the business fabric is this type of company, which is far from the model of other countries,” explains Alberto Caballero, co-creator and executive producer of Muertos SL “The theme of death is still a packaging that gives personality to the series, but we wanted to tell about work conflicts, conflicts, miseries, very gray lives, which is what amuses us. “We wanted to see people who understand why they are not happy.”

“When you get into a series, there is a part of you that chooses the topic because you see possibilities and it catches your attention, and also because it is a way to learn things. This is clearly related to the midlife crisis. Your references from your childhood and youth are no longer there, you see people of your generation who die…”, says Alberto Caballero.

From the left, Gerald B. Fillmore, Roque Ruiz, Laura Caballero, Carlos Areces and Adriana Torrebejano, in the thanatopraxy room of 'Muertos SL'.
From the left, Gerald B. Fillmore, Roque Ruiz, Laura Caballero, Carlos Areces and Adriana Torrebejano, in the thanatopraxy room of ‘Muertos SL’.Manuel Fiestas Moreno

Adriana Torrebejano, Salva Reina, Diego Martín, Ascen López, Aitziber Garmendia, Gerald B. Fillmore, Roque Ruiz and Amaia Salamanca are some of the names in a cast full of faces familiar to fans of other Caballero series. They explain that they use their productions as fishing grounds to fish for talent: when they discover someone who stands out in a small role, they look for ways to give them more prominence in their next story. Roque Ruiz was in more than a dozen episodes of The village and Ascen Lopez, Aitziber Garmendia and Adriana Torrebejano had had small roles of Alpha males. Diego Martín and Carlos Areces are already regulars in their series. “Apart from talent, we are interested in working with very nice people. It takes longer to record because of the collegiate atmosphere, but there is an energy that transcends and reaches people. We try to create groups that get along very well,” explains Laura Caballero, director and producer of the series.

The 30 minute episodes of Muertos SL They exude black humor in situations that in some cases are very recognizable and, in others, a bit crazy. “It has a lot to do with the DNA of what we like about Laura and Alberto Caballero and that connects with their first series but updating it. It’s pure sitcom”, summarizes Susana Herreras, executive producer of Movistar Plus+. “In their series they always seek discomfort and reflection. Although they seem very light, they always make jokes on the border of what is politically correct and raise very interesting underlying issues,” describes the producer, who points to sexual harassment, late empowerment or work dynamics such as competition or plugging as some of those topics.

Carlos Areces plays Dámaso, the person in charge of the funeral home, in 'Muertos SL'.
Carlos Areces plays Dámaso, the person in charge of the funeral home, in ‘Muertos SL’.Manuel Fiestas Moreno

The most surprising situations have to do, of course, with the mortuary theme, and some of them are based on real cases. For example, preparing a funeral for an ex after a painful breakup. Or the desire to say goodbye to a person who loves motorcycles by placing the body on a motorcycle instead of a coffin. Or funerals low cost, with coffin rental and express wakes. “My favorite scene from the first season is a man who comes to arrange his own funeral because he is going to commit suicide. The intern helps him and doesn’t know how to react to that. The tanatopractor comes and asks him if he has thought about what kind of suicide it will be because the price changes if it has to be rebuilt. It is a scene that, perhaps, on free-to-air television we would have had more problems with,” says Alberto Caballero.

What they were clear about was that they did not want to show strong or gores. “We are not doing Dexter, there is no emphasis on that,” says Laura Caballero. Even so, she remembers that when the tanatopractor explained to Adriana Torrebejano on the first day what her work was like, she had to stop for a few minutes because the actress was about to get dizzy.

Gerald B. Fillmore, Adriana Torrebejano and Diego Martin, in 'Dead SL'.
Gerald B. Fillmore, Adriana Torrebejano and Diego Martin, in ‘Dead SL’.Manuel Fiestas Moreno

The Caballero brothers’ series share some aspects, beyond some actors. “They work a line of humor that I find very funny, they have always had a fine black humor,” says Carlos Areces. “They are capable of connecting with a broad sector of the public without making easy concessions, without selling out. They go into gardens, and that makes them connect with the audience,” adds the actor. At the same time, each of its productions has its own identity. In Dead SL, Laura Caballero highlights the use of zoom as a narrative element that has led even the actors’ interpretation to adapt to it, with a more naturalistic touch. “That gives it an appearance of reality or documentary. There are many strange points of view, as if there were someone spying…” says the director about the use of the camera. Also in this series are the first improvised scenes they have filmed: the fun sequences that accompany the final credits of each chapter.

Now, the Caballero brothers have to balance filming their series: The one that is coming for Telecinco and Prime Video, Alpha males for Netflix and Muertos SL for Movistar Plus+. “Sooner or later we will screw up at some point, but we are trying to delay that moment as much as possible, and I hope it is not in this one, because due to the characters, plot and vibe, I think it has a lot to give,” says Alberto Caballero. “We have a character who is on leave at the funeral home, Carmen, a character in offI hope we can discover who he is in the 10th season,” he concludes.

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