Since its premiere in 2018, “Elite” has regaled audiences across the English- and Spanish-speaking world, bringing all the overstated high school glam of “Euphoria,” plus the added twist of a murder mystery. Most importantly, “Elite” offers us several smart, sexy and powerful women of color on screen in a TV world where those roles are often reserved for white women. Sure, Cayetana (Georgina Amorós, “Locked Up”), Marina (María Pedraza, “Money Heist”), Carla (Ester Expósito, “Someone Has to Die”), Mencía (Martina Cariddi, “While at War”), Rebe (Claudia Salas, “La Peste”) and Nadia (Mina El Hammani, “El internado: Las Cumbres”) also offer some powerful moments, but we all know the truth: it’s Lucrecia, or Lu (Danna Paola, “La Doña”), that we can’t tear our eyes from. Above all, it’s Lu we’re invested in — the queen of “Elite” and the queen of our hearts.
Iconic pop star Danna Paola’s portrayal of the baddest bitch to grace our screens is no less than exceptional. It’s not just Lu’s impeccable style and ambition that make us love her — thanks to Paola and the writers, she’s so much more than that.
There are some less-than-proud moments for Lu, especially early in the series, so let’s get those out of the way. She blackmailed her teacher that one time. She had some deeply questionable interactions with her half-brother Valerio (Jorge López, “Surviving Escobar: Alias JJ”). She looked down on Samuel (Itzan Escamilla, “The Idhun Chronicles”), Nadia and, to a lesser degree, Christian (Miguel Herrán, “Money Heist”) upon their arrival to Las Encinas. Regardless, it’s her character development that makes her so compelling; her early stumbles make you proud of who she becomes.
Despite Lu’s embarrassing early gambits, her character showed great promise and loyalty from the show’s inception. It’s Lu who talks Guzmán (Miguel Bernardeau, “Josefina”) off of a literal ledge following his sister’s death and who still somehow manages to let her sense of humor show even in the darkest of moments. As she embraces Guzmán, in tears but satisfied with his considerable distance from the edge, she tells him, “Si vuelves a hacer algo así, te juro que quien te mata soy yo // If you do something like that again, I promise it will be me that kills you.”
She knows her worth and inspires others to know theirs. A sweet friendship blossomed in Season Two between Lu and Omar (Omar Ayuso, “Gusts of Wild Life”), so she gave him her best advice: “Nunca ames a alguien que te haga sentir ordinario // Never love anyone who treats you like you’re ordinary.” In another shining moment, in the very first episode, Lu was showing the group an Instagram video on her phone when Christian tried to grab it. His violation of her personal space prompted her to say, loudly and clearly, “No me toques // Do not touch me.” She sets her boundaries. She’s here to break the norm that control of your body belongs to anyone but you, even if some people perceive her to be a bitch for it.
In many ways, Lu was also a proud feminist from day one. She implored her girlfriends to demand more; when she saw their boyfriends treating them in any manner less than acceptable, she spoke up. To Carla, she says, “No soporto que haga contigo lo que quiere, cariño. A ver, está bien de vez en cuando poner los ovarios sobre la mesa! // I can’t stand it when he walks all over you. It’s good to put your ovaries on the table every now and then!”
Lu’s reverse Valentine’s Day party in Season Three was pure genius. Even if she crafted the idea so she could host the party without anyone finding out that she was broke, her idea to subvert gender roles was absolutely groundbreaking. She had one main message: the women of “Elite” (and women everywhere) are sick of catering to men. She showed her commitment to the concept not just by showing up in her tuxedo as promised (and wearing it better than any of the men we’ve seen in penguin suits over the course of the show) but also by breaking free of Guzmán. She had chased after him for so long after their breakup in Season One and her rejection of him at the party indicated she was finally recognizing her own worth and knew she was too good to be anyone’s second choice.
Lu’s sweetest moment, and possibly the sweetest moment of the series to date, was when she finally put aside her extremely competitive nature (which, admittedly, has served her well) and refused to accept the scholarship when Nadia turned it down. She sought out her formal archrival and delivered her best monologue: “No quieres vivir en una mentira? Pues pon los fucking ovaries sobre la mesa y dile a tu padre que la beca la tomas tú, pero tú sola. No necesitas a nadie, y mucho menos a un hombre, Nadia. Sé la mujer que ha sido capaz de vencerme a mí, a la que admiro, carajo! // You don’t want to live a lie? Grow some fucking ovaries and tell your father you’re going to accept the scholarship and go alone. You don’t need a man or anyone else, Nadia. Be the woman who managed to beat me, the one I admire, dammit!” To our surprise and joy, the two ultimately decided to share the Columbia scholarship and headed to New York together. The once-warring duo embraced more than once as the scholarship plan played out, putting Lu’s warmth and caring that she tried so hard to conceal on display for all to see.
Arguably, the ultimate display of how far Lu had come was at the very close of Season Three. She had killed Polo (Álvaro Rico, “El Cid”), albeit accidentally (and hey, good riddance), and the entire cast banded together to cover for her. Guzmán, Samuel, Valerio, Cayetana, Carla, Rebe, Ander (Arón Piper, “The Mess You Leave Behind”), Omar and Nadia all take hold of the neck of the bottle, put their prints on the murder weapon and get their stories straight. Rather than let her take the fall for Polo’s death, they engineer their accounts in a way that is so contradictory the detective couldn’t possibly pinpoint a killer. What better way to show how Lu had transformed from an evil Queen Bee to a beloved member of the group than to have her friends risk their futures to try to ensure she wouldn’t lose hers?
I rest my case. Lu is the character you can’t help but love; she is unrivaled in her loyalty, compassion and boldness.
Daily Arts Writer Emmy Snyder can be reached at email@example.com.