White Lines review: The wild summer adventure we all need right now

The summer holidays might be cancelled, but Netflix has come prepared with an outrageous new DJ-and-drugs thriller starring Daniels Mays and Laura Haddock.

By Alex Fletcher Published: 16 June 2020 - 4.42pm

There’s a good reason why all the publicity and trailers for White Lines told us that the new Netflix show had come from "the creator of Money Heist", the Spanish drama series that has become a global phenomenon.

“Take my money now,” screamed fans on social media and in the YouTube comments, desperate for more thrills, twists and impossibly good-looking people in nail-biting scrapes.

Alex Pina, the writer and creator of Money Heist and White Lines, knows how to deliver drama that pushes the extremes. It’s wild escapism and head-spinning plots, but it also delivers big on characters.

White Lines has all of that and more. The story follows 35-year-old Zoe as she travels to Ibiza to uncover what really happened to her DJ brother Axel. He was on the verge of becoming a superstar DJ on the White Isle in the 90s before meeting a sticky end.

The young cast of White Lines in the 1996 timeline Netflix

The whodunit gives the series a central hook, but swirling around the mystery of what happened to Axel are equally intriguing stories around lost youth, romance, sex, drugs, gangs and family dynasties.

Two timelines, are intertwined in the show. Back in 1996, Axel and his gang are swapping the Manchester drizzle and warehouse raves for hedonistic Ibiza pool parties and God-like status among the Spanish locals.

In the modern-day storyline, Zoe gathers together the broken characters along with those who wronged her brother, while going on her own journey of self-discovery.

Bringing together slapstick and farce with poignancy and rollicking action, White Lines is the blissful Ibiza dancefloor escapism we all need in 2020.

Here are three reasons White Lines is the must-watch drama of the summer...

Daniel Mays, Daniel Mays, Daniel Mays

Daniel Mays in White Lines Netflix

These days the sight of Daniel Mays in a cast list is a solid-gold guarantee that you’re going to be getting something special in a TV series.

White Lines is filled with some outrageous, self-destructive and dastardly characters, but it’s May’s broken and battered Marcus who really brings some heart to the series.

In the 1996 timeline,  DJ Marcus - played by Radio 1’s Cel Spellman - is sensible and grounded, but he’s also less talented than his buddy Axel.

In the present day, May’s older Marcus is a broken soul who is struggling with the fact that he lived like a God in his 20s and doesn’t see how his life can ever return to those heady days.

Marcus, a failing drug dealer who is going through a divorce and is plagued by bad luck, is filled with pain, longing and regret that will tap into the minds of any viewer with hazy memories of busy dancefloors and a Ministry of Sound CD gathering dust.

It’s a murder mystery… in Ibiza

Angela Griffin as Anna in White Lines Netflix

From the Caribbean beauty of Death in Paradise to the jolly English countryside in Midsomer Murders, there’s something about a murder mystery in the sunshine that is utterly addictive.

But unlike the cosy and quaint British whodunit format, White Lines hurls together Spanish sex parties, inventive torture scenes involving a PA system and an ongoing gag about dogs addicted to cocaine.

The series is brimming with the wild and eccentric spirit of Ibiza, but at its core, there is a classic murder mystery populated by characters who you can never quite trust.

It might be the only holiday we'll get this summer

Tom Rhys Harries as Axel in the sunshine in White Lines Netflix

Maybe it’s just because we’ve been stuck indoors for months, but the cinematography on White Lines is on another scale.

From sun-drenched Spanish landscapes to the glistening sea and picturesque Ibiza villas, White Lines will have you salivating at the prospect of a holiday as soon as we're out of lockdown.

The central storylines might all be digging into the darker underbelly of the White Isle and scratching underneath the surface of its wild party reputation. But that won’t stop you staring longingly at the screen, soaking up every gorgeous panning shot.

Filmed across Madrid, Majorca, Almería and Ibiza, get your fingers ready to book the flights when lockdown ends.

All 10 episodes of White Lines are available on Netflix now.