Netflix Dystopian Sci-Fi Thriller Series Divides The Future Into Horror

By Charlene Badasie | Updated

The 2020 Spanish dystopian drama series The Barrier is streaming on Netflix. Created by Daniel Ecija, the story is set in the 2040s and begins after World War III, when the city of Madrid is divided by a wall. The story follows a family’s fight for survival in a society plagued by food shortages, disease, and an oppressive government.

The Barrier Is A Harrowing Look At The Future

The Barrier focuses on the Mujica family, whose daughter Marta is taken by the government.  In 2045, Spain is under a dictatorial regime after a virus and ecological disaster. Society is divided by a physical barrier, segregating the privileged from the rest. Julia and her daughter Marta live in Madrid. Marta falls ill and is taken to a government health center, where Julia’s husband, Hugo, is a doctor.

An Oppressive Government

However, Julia and Hugo find out that the center is a cover for a government operation to experiment on children for a cure.  With help from Hugo’s brother, Alex, the family is determined to rescue Marta. As the trio navigates the harsh realities of their divided world, they uncover more about the regime’s oppressive tactics.

The family faces numerous obstacles while trying to free Marta. They encounter other families suffering under the regime’s oppressive policies. Julia and Hugo’s resolve strengthens as they see the widespread impact of the government’s actions. Their fight for justice becomes a fight for everyone’s freedom as the story of The Barrier unfolds.

Every Episode Builds The Tension

As The Barrier draws to a close, key secrets about the virus and the experiments are revealed. Julia and Hugo discover shocking truths that change the course of their mission. Each episode builds on the last, creating a compelling story (blended with relevant social commentary) about resistance, sacrifice, and the quest for a better world.

A Hit Spanish Series

After its January 2020 release on Spanish streaming service Atresplayer Premium, Netflix picked up the 13-episode first season of The Barrier for international distribution. Netflix released the series, produced by Atresmedia in collaboration with Good Mood Productions, in September 2020, bringing it to a global platform, which significantly increased its reach.

Critics Praise The Barrier

The Barrier received mixed to positive reviews from critics who praised the series for its plot and timely themes, especially considering the real-world context of the COVID-19 pandemic that began in early 2020. The performances of the main cast, including Unax Ugalde (Hugo), Olivia Molina (Julia), and Eleonora Wexler (Alma), were also considered strong points.

Streaming Only On Netflix

Some critics felt that The Barrier’s pacing was uneven, and the plot sometimes veered into melodrama. Additionally, while the show’s production design was generally well-received, there were criticisms regarding its execution of certain sci-fi elements. The viewer response was generally positive, as the family’s struggle resonated with audiences in the context of the global pandemic.

While viewers also commended The Barrier for exploring social issues such as class division and governmental control, they were divided about its rushed and controversial ending. Despite the mixed reviews, the series found an audience on Netflix, with many comparing it favorably to other dystopian dramas. At the time of writing, it has not been renewed for a second season.