Societal shifts

Societal shifts

May 17, 2023

The Writers Room

Lucas Paraízo, creator of The Others, talks about his latest series for Brazil’s Globoplay, revealing why he wanted to tackle themes of intolerance and the value of looking at society in new ways.

Described as an urban thriller set in the heart of Rio de Janeiro, Brazilian series The Others seeks to explore issues of intolerance through the story of two warring couples.

The show is set in a middle-class condominium, where a fight between children leads their parents to take sides against each other. The cast is led by Adriana Esteves (Brazil Avenue), Milhem Cortaz (A Mother’s Love), Drica Moraes (Empire), Maeve Jinkings, Thomás Aquino and Eduardo Sterblitch.

Debuting on streamer Globoplay this month, The Others comes from creator and writer Lucas Paraízo, who is also behind the acclaimed, long-running hospital drama Under Pressure. Luisa Lima (Where My Heart Is) is the director.

Here, Paraízo tells DQ about creating the show, his “chaotic” writing style and the success of Brazilian series overseas.

Lucas Paraízo with director Luisa Lima

Lucas, can you introduce us to the story of The Others?
The Others is a discussion about intolerance and the difficulty of dialogue in today’s society. In the story, two neighbouring couples clash after their children fight, leading to absurd consequences.

What are the origins of the project?
When I was writing Under Pressure, Globo commissioned me to create a show about the ‘Brazilian family.’ So I went to reflect on what I was seeing in our society at that time [in 2019]. I was used to seeing rich and poor Brazilian characters on screen, but rarely the middle class. And that was my goal: to represent them in their complexity. Also, I needed more emotion, more hot blood, more pressure and more explosiveness, as we were (and still are) in Brazil. That’s how we got to the first season of the show.

How did you want to follow your success with Under Pressure?
Under Pressure taught me how to look at society in a different way and, particularly, how to represent it. The Others is the result of a more critical but, at the same time, more careful look at us.

What themes did you want to discuss in The Others?
The polarised society we live in; the intolerance; the lack of listening. Public safety and violence. Social and family abuse, but also affection, love and the need for dialogue.

Who are the main characters and how do we follow them through the series?
The protagonists are the neighbouring couples: Cibele and Amâncio, and Wando and Mila. Motivated by what they perceive as threats to themselves and their families, they find themselves in an endless tangle of extreme attitudes that reveal their fears and anxieties.

How would you describe your writing process?
I’m organised outside and chaotic inside. I really like working in a team and stimulating and being stimulated by my partners. In practice, I write a synopsis by myself and then I share it with [writer and cinematographer] Flavio Araujo and my artistic director Luisa Lima. When we’re satisfied, I show it to the channel, and the writing staff come in to write the episodes.

The Others, set in Rio de Janeiro, focuses on two warring couples

Are there different demands writing for a streaming platform compared to the Globo network?
Streaming is an evolution of improved habits adapted to the modern world. But we all want the same thing: audience. And the tools are the same as always. What doesn’t change is a good story – it has no fixed form.

How did you work with Luisa Lima to establish a visual style for the show?
I think I created a very particular show, and Luisa did the same with the aesthetics of the direction. We have common goals and we complement each other. She works in the form, I work in the narrative. Luisa is a director who improves the script when she is sure of it. And what I try to do, together with my writing partners, is give weight and depth to our discourse.

The series is described as an urban thriller set in Rio de Janeiro. How does it use locations around the city to tell the story?
Rio de Janeiro is a unique city with very particular urban rules and codes but, at the same time, it is extremely universal. We all have neighbours, and coexistence and tolerance are not easy. The condominiums in the neighbourhood of Barra da Tijuca are a microcosm of these relationships.

What challenges did you face, in writing or producing the series?
The Others is a series that mixes several genres – it goes from thriller to comedy, from the absurd to the tragic. Finding the tone was not easy. The idea was to test the limits of these genres and combine them. I like to take risks with my stories and provoke with coherence.

The series debuts on Brazilian streamer Globoplay this month

What can viewers expect from the series?
A lot of things – fasten your seat belts. All the characters will have their transformation and their humanisation.

Brazilian series have found success around the world. Why might The Others also find an international audience?
Because it’s a universal story. We all push our boundaries and explode. And mostly because you never know how you’re going to react when someone threatens your family.

How would you describe the state of Brazilian drama – where are the opportunities and the challenges?
The opportunity lies in the internationalisation of our stories. Brazil was used to exporting soap operas, and now it’s showing that it has the strength to reach foreign audiences with series as well. The challenge is to maintain the Brazilian identity – that is our brand.

What are you working on next?
I am writing the second season of The Others, which we will start shooting this year.

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