‘Little Nicholas: The Life Of A Scoundrel’ Review: Netflix’s Docuseries, Entertains But Also Makes You Think

Here we go again. Another week, and another true crime series from Netflix. The genre has become the bread and butter of the streaming service, and to be fair, they continue to impress. The three-episode Little Nicholas: Life of a Scoundrel is another fine example of Netflix doing what they do best: enthralling the audience with a fascinating crime story. This one, however, doesn’t involve your usual bloody, gory, and vicious murders. We’re dealing with merely a teenager here, but obviously not a regular one. Why would there be a Netflix documentary series about an ordinary teenager anyway?

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What Is The Docuseries About?

Francisco Nicholás Gómez Iglesias, aka Fran, was a mere teenager from a very regular middle-class household in Madrid, Spain. But unlike other working-class teenagers, Fran clearly didn’t want to go through the grind and end up with a basic job, a decent income, and a regular life. He wanted much more than that. Fran wanted to shoot for the stars, walk on the clouds, and have the world at his feet. And while money is an absolute necessity to get there, it was clearly not enough. Fran had to climb up the societal ladder and land himself in the midst of the rich, where he could easily eat them, if you know what I mean.

The thing is, the boy actually pulled it off. He was supremely charming, insanely smart, and had a brilliant mind to do things that we see only in movies and shows. Not to mention, the amount of courage and confidence “Little Nicholas” (yes, that’s what Fran is popularly known as) has shown throughout his journey is impossible to believe. Be it posing as a liaison or inventing a whole new personality to make a fool out of a businessman, Fran did it all for years. And he targeted all three sections of the top section of the creme de la creme of Spanish society: the monarchy, the government, and the rich businessmen. Were they all that dumb? Probably not, but Nicholas Gómez Iglesias was clearly too smart for them.

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How Did Nicholas Do It?

Instead of going for the big fish right away, Nicholas tries out low-profile con jobs. He tricks people into buying fake tickets to concerts and somehow comes up with plans to get his way into fine-dining restaurants, all while aspiring for something much bigger. With each job, Nicholas keeps gathering both the experience and the necessary confidence to go for the higher-profile stuff. That’s how he smoothly rides the ladder, and he finds himself posing as a liaison for the monarchy one day. And how does he get there? Through a lot of research, the invention of exciting personalities, and the creation of a lot of vastly different stories, all by himself. And the guy was only in his teens. From there on, there was no looking back until he finally got caught one day.


Review

“Little Nicholas: The Life of a Scoundrel” goes deep into its fascinating subject but also manages to not get seduced by him. The reason I am putting it this way is because the guy actually comes off as someone so charming that you would love to be friends with him under different circumstances. The good thing about the documentary is that we actually get to hear about Little Nicholas’ criminal endeavors from the guy himself. And the way he speaks and narrates his own wrongdoings is extremely engaging. Of course, director Tomás Ocaña is smart enough to give the audience an opportunity to see things from other perspectives as well, which includes lawmen, journalists, and Nicholas’s own mother. Some of them hail him as this dazzling teenager with incredibly cool abilities to win over people, while others only see him as nothing but a mere criminal.

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However, the most important as well as interesting aspect of “Little Nicholas: The Life of a Scoundrel” is the question it asks without actually asking it. That happens to be—why does a teenage boy have such a dream and go down this path? No matter how fascinating and brilliant Nicholas’ antics are, he is still a bright young boy, pretty much ruining his life without actually realizing it. From what I can conclude, for someone like Nicholas, it was much like getting a high and never giving it up because the “high” felt good. And this is the magnetic pull of money and glitz, something that goes hand in hand with capitalism.

Let us just face it: we live in a capitalist society. There’s no way around this hard truth. And if we don’t belong to the absolute rich or politically powerful class, then we are pretty much doomed—unless we get there. But we can’t if we stick to the basics and try things according to the book. It is impossible to succeed because the system is made in such a way that, if not for a miracle, the rich, the middle class, and the poor all remain where they are through their lives. Some (maybe most) just accept that, and then there are people like Nicholas. Deep down, it bothers them so much that they can’t take it anymore. They wouldn’t rest until they got to eat the rich in order to become them. The incessant urge of putting in an insane amount of effort only to find a shortcut to what they consider to be the ultimate heaven is uncontrollable, and Francisco Nicolás Gómez Iglesias as well as others like him are results of that only.

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I believe the reason true crime documentaries are made is not just for entertainment and earning big bucks. It is very essential, of course, as ideally finance and pleasure should both be metrics for measuring the quality of what we call content. But stories like “Little Nicholas” are still much more than just Netflix and chill and then moving on to the next thing. In many ways, it is an unintentional awareness campaign to make us realize the difference between right and wrong and hopefully take away important lessons. 


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Rohitavra Majumdar
Rohitavra Majumdar
Rohitavra likes to talk about movies, music, photography, food, and football. He has a government job to get by, but all those other things are what keep him going.

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