Ares: post-imperial and spooky

I’m starting to sound like a saleswoman for Netflix as all I do here is recommend its shows. But really, you must watch Ares. This eight-part drama from the Netherlands is incredible. Released in 2020, Ares is a thoughtful and considered response to the Dutch imperial past.

The story centres on Rosa and Jacob, two students who join Ares, a secretive student society in Amsterdam. For Jacob, membership is a family tradition. The society is composed of the country’s wealthiest, oldest families. Members claim direct descendence from the builders of the Dutch empire. For first-year medical student Rosa it’s different. She’s an outsider. Her family live in a flat, her father works a night shift and her mum is seriously ill.

Rosa’s also biracial because her dad is black. The significance of Rosa’s heritage becomes blazingly apparent in one of the most memorable scenes in Netflix history. I won’t say more because we’re edging towards spoiler territory!

You’ll enjoy Ares if you like dramas about sinister societies with supernatural secrets. This story has lots of tension and is very creepy.

Special mention must go to the visual aspects of Ares. The costumes, hair, make up, settings and lighting really do evoke the magnificent paintings of the Dutch imperial period. I loved the look of the supernatural scenes too.

A season two is expected. I’m not sure how they’ll follow up on such a wonderful first season. Whatever happens, I hope Netflix features Jade Olieberg (Rosa) in more shows. She plays Rosa’s complex character with such skill. Without her, Ares would’ve been a lesser show.

A word of warning. There are several scenes of suicide in Ares.

A still from Ares, Netflix 2020

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