Gran Hotel is not a crime show. It’s a sexy, romantic, exciting Spanish series that ran for three seasons, beldning blends Downton Abbey with Dynasty, but ups the temperature by adding robbery, rape, murders, bombs, and relentless skulduggery.
It’s set in northern Spain on the Atlantic coast at a luxurious hotel and there’s constant interaction at many levels between the staff and feuding Alarcón owners, a family with secrets coming out of their jewel boxes.
The decorous 1905 clothes cover up seething passions: revenge, adultery, jealousy, lust, hatred, and much more. It’s a festival of felonious behavior, with a handsome, dynamic cast and great comic touches to lighten the tension.
But true to form, people in it do the dumbest things imaginable when faced with crime or criminals. Like the daughter married to an impoverished Marquis. She finds someone stabbed to death in her beautiful suite. Does she scream? No. Does she run from the room? No. Does she even ring for a maid to bring her some tea or brandy? No.
She picks up the bloody knife and you think, “Sure, that’s exactly what I would do if I found a body in my room–pick up the murder weapon.” This happens all the time in crime shows and movies and it’s beyond stupid.
Then there’s an altercation in another episode where a blackmailing thug is wounded in the hotel office, but supposedly escapes. We see blood inside the hotel and assume he’s hiding there (if we’re veterans of crime fiction). One of the guests who’s a family friend goes to her room and when she closes the door, finds blood on her hand from the French-style door handle. Does she flee? No way! Unarmed, she creeps into the room, oh-so-slowly, to see who’s there. Of course she’s taken captive by the gun-wielding miscreant. Which is doubly unbelievable because she’s a lawyer and one of the smartest, most independent-minded characters in the show.
These are just two sad examples from a show which fields strong women except when it comes to crime scene behavior. Apparently the screenwriters privilege plot over believability, and by doing so, they make otherwise intelligent characters seem moronic. I’ve seen it happen in show after show, movie after movie; all too often, it’s the women who end up playing the part of the dummy.
Lev Raphael is the author of 25 books in genres from memoir to mystery including The Edith Wharton Murders. A different version of this blog appeared at Mysteristas.