In 2017, writer-producers Ramón Campos and Gema R. Neira collaborated on Cable Girls, the first Spanish-language original produced by Netflix. They've since worked together on a number of projects from 45rpm to High Seas, and most recently collaborated on creating the bilingual thriller Now & Then — premiering May 20 on Apple TV+. Twenty years after they hid the truth about the death of their college best friend, Ana (Marina de Tavira), Pedro (José María Yazpik), Sofia (Maribel Verdú), Marcos (Manolo Cardona), and Daniela (Soledad Villamil) panic when they are blackmailed by someone who claims to know what happened on that fateful night. Set in Miami, the series also features Rosie Perez as Flora, the detective who couldn't solve the case in 2000 but is hell-bent on cracking it now.
"We opened a brand new door after Cable Girls, that was through Netflix," Campos — who co-founded Bambú Producciones, the company that collaborated with Netflix on Cable Girls and is behind Now & Then — told TV Guide. "We wanted to do the same with Apple TV+." Campos said he doesn't feel pressure from creating Spanish-language shows that are often the first of their kind on global streaming platforms, but instead feels a responsibility. "We're making a new start, both in Latin America and the English-speaking world," he said of Now & Then. "And this will open new doors, new possibilities to other producers and writers."
When Now & Then premieres on Apple TV+, it joins a collection of multilingual series on the platform. There's the epic drama Pachinko, for instance, which features dialogue in Korean, Japanese, and English. The espionage thriller Tehran, a story told in Hebrew, Farsi, and English. And there's the comedy Acapulco which, like Now & Then, is both in Spanish and English. Now & Then star Cardona said a growing willingness toward reading subtitles is allowing formore cultures to be understood. "Look what happened with Narcos. Narcos also was in Spanish and English and the U.S. is reading subtitles," the actor said of the widely popular crime drama which he starred in between 2015 and 2016. "Now the Americans are willing to read subtitles and what is going on with all these amazing stories from Korea, from Japan, from all over the world."
Now & Then features a predominantly Hispanic cast, with its stars hailing from countries including Mexico, Spain, Colombia, Argentina, and the U.S. Asked about the importance of this cast, Perez said, "The significance is that first of all, this story would work with an all-Asian cast, an all-white cast, an all-African American cast." She said what's most important to her is that Now & Then is a good story. "The fact that they gave it to us is everything," she added, because a show like this pushes back against the stereotype that Hispanic people are a monolith. "We're not one type of Latino or Latina or Latinx, whatever you want to call us," Perez said. "We are Puerto Rican, we are Mexican, we are Colombian, Venezuelan, we are Spaniards, we are Portuguese." The series, through its casting, showcases this diversity. "It's a big, big, big message to Hollywood to say, hey, stop lumping us all up. Stop perpetuating what you think we are," Perez continued.
Another common perception the show aims to change is around Miami. "In other shows you can see that beach culture and skating and surfing," show co-creator and writer Neira said of how the city is usually portrayed. "But it's a city where people work too and these people, their kids go to school." She said this "real Miami" has rarely been depicted in television and cinema.
"It wasn't just, the glitz and glamour of Miami," Perez said. "You saw the residents, the real people that live there and you saw the class divide." In particular, classism is evident through the relationships of the five central best friends and through their interactions with Perez's character Flora.
The bilingual nature of the show also reflects the reality of the Hispanic-majority city. More than 65% of the population in Miami-Dade County speak Spanish as of 2022, according to Miami Matters. Perez said the cast discussed the language in the show. "We started talking amongst ourselves. And it's like, we don't have to speak Spanish throughout the whole entire thing," she said. "We could break it up and talk in English here or there, that's Miami."
The first three episodes of Now & Then are available to stream.