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Queerty: This weekend, try a taste of ‘Veneno’ (Poison), and get high on living


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Veneno

Welcome to the Weekend Binge. Every Friday, we’ll suggest a binge-able title designed to keep you from getting too stir crazy. Check back throughout the weekend for even more gloriously queer entertainment.

The Sleeper: Veneno

A colleague here at Queerty stumbled onto this gem, a Spanish-produced TV series that landed stateside on HBO Max. Based on a true story, Veneno recounts the story of Christina “La Veneno” [The Poison] Ortiz, a transgender model who became a sensation on Spanish TV in the 1980s and 90s. Much as with trans icons on American television–Kate Bornstein, Caroline Cossey–inspired younger generations of LGBTQ activists, La Veneno helped advance queer rights in Spain, and inspired legions of younger fans.

Veneno picks up in 2006, when a young transgender journalist named Valeria (Lola Rodriguez) has a chance encounter with La Veneno, who has faded into obscurity with age. Valeria becomes obsessed with tracking down and meeting La Veneno as a devoted fan. So begins a peculiar friendship in which La Veneno helps Valeria come out as transgender herself, and in which Valeria becomes a scribe to La Veneno’s incredible story. Little do the pair know their lives have long been intertwined–for better, and for worse.

More than that we’ll not reveal here. The structure of Veneno involves lots of jumping around in time from the 1960s to the 2010s, uncoiling one dramatic twist after the next. The show also benefits from terrific performances on the part of Rodriguez, and by Daniela Santiago and Isabel Torres, each of whom plays the title role at different points in her life and career. The resulting series is altogether hilarious, touching and inspiring, much like the woman that inspired it. COVID-19 halted production of the series after only eight episodes were produced; all of them are now available on HBO Max. With an implied second season in the works to finish out the story, we suggest getting caught up now.

Streams on HBO Max.

Queerty