The Devilish Delight of ‘Diablero’

A woman dies in Mexico City, killed by some kind of demon. With her dying breaths, she calls for a priest, but instead of asking for last rites, she tells him her daughter has been kidnapped, and that he is the father. 

This is the inciting incident of Diablero, Netflix’s Mexican supernatural action-comedy series created by Pablo Tébar and José Manuel Cravioto. The priest, Father Ramiro Ventura (Christopher von Uckermann) falls into the world of demon hunting, led by Elvis Infante (Horacio García Rojas), a “diablero” with more than a few debts owed to shady figures all over town. It’s a wild, humorous ride, eventually including Elvis’ sister Keta (Fátima Molina) and their demon-controlling friend Nancy (Gisselle Kuri). 

It seems like there’s always a market for monster-hunting TV shows. And with the modern-era grandfather of the format, Supernatural, finally coming to a close this year, the window is open for fresh, demonic blood. (Wait, gross.) Diablero fills that need and more, adding a unique sense of humor and style, not to mention a theme song from legendary Mexican rock band Café Tacvba that absolutely whips. Come for the demon-hunting, stay for seemingly every side character making jokes at the expense of Catholic priests who couldn’t keep it in their pants. 

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Calling Diablero the Mexican Supernatural is reductive, and it doesn’t quite capture what makes the show fun, but the parallels are obvious. Diablero’s emphasis on humor and complicated familial ties amidst various demonic apocalypses should please Supernatural fans, and details like Elvis’ muscle car and the way demons possess humans by entering their bodies as a dark gas suggest the writers are familiar with the long-running CW show. But Diablero trades in the classic Americana cultural touchstones for profanity-ridden Mexican social media in-jokes and it adds something Supernatural was never able to achieve: compelling female characters that don’t die mere episodes after their introduction.

It isn’t a perfect show, but what Diablero occasionally lacks in structure and motivated character choices it makes up for in humor and heart. The standout episode of the second season is “The Ahuizotl,” in which three of the main characters venture into the underworld to find the fourth. The longer they’re there, the more of their memories they lose, making for a loopy, comedic episode that culminates with an unexpected consequence: in exchange for their escape, one character has to promise his life. Supernatural fans will certainly be familiar with these kinds of stakes, as Diablero’s main characters have to constantly outwit demons, thugs, and even death itself for just a little more time together.

Diablero is only growing as a show — seeing the relationships between its heroes deepen and entangle in the second season was proof of that. The writers don’t seem interested in wasting time exploring the motivations of their villains, preferring instead to focus on the strong comedic chemistry of the main cast. It’s a formula that works thanks to episodes like “The Ahuizotl,” episodes that showcase the characters’ affection for one another. 

Netflix has made no announcement regarding a third season yet, but it sure couldn’t hurt to have some more people watching.

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