TV Review: 'Unauthorized Living' ('Vivir Sin Permiso') Season 1 On Netflix

Familial related drama is at the core of any good television series and the Netflix original “Unauthorized Living” (“Vivir sin Permiso”) provides a prime example of why that is. It is a saga that marries multiple layers of intrigue. Acting as a crime drama and thriller amidst a backdrop of family-led tension.

As the series opens, Nemo Bandeira (José Coronado) is on the verge of celebrating his 60th birthday. What his family is unaware of, is that prior to the party, he has gotten diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. In the beginning, only his best friend and (literal) partner in crime, Ferro (Luis Zahera), knows.


Viewers soon learn that is not the only secret Nemo is keeping from his family. To keep the family business alive, Nemo has also gotten involved in the drug trade. Meaning he is the head of a crime family.

Nemo’s life is complicated. He is trying to exit his criminal dealings and somewhat legitimize his business. His empire is being threatened on all sides. The window to leave something to his family beginning to narrow. Following his diagnosis, Nemo decides it is time to choose a successor. It is that fateful choice, which leads to disastrous consequences. Why?

Because he decides to choose between his biological son and daughter. Meaning his trusted attorney, and left-hand man, Mario, who he has raised as a son, is out of the running. Mario (Álex González) does not take Nemo’s decision well, leading to a bevy of backstabs.

Told throughout thirteen riveting near-feature length episodes, “Unauthorized Living” is a lively and intoxicating watch. Smartly written and suavely executed, the series is gripping at every turn. Viewers, who enjoy a regular dose of plot twists will find no shortage of shockers to sift through.

Nemo and his unbeknownst nemesis are at the core of the excitement. Mario is a loathsome villain whose twisted next move never stops stunning. Actor Álex González brings him to searing life as a formidable opponent no one sees coming.

A man facing the repercussions of a life lived with its share of mistakes, Nemo is a flawed, multi-dimensional patriarch. He is remorseful about many things from his past, and his attempts at peace meet varying results. That is where the family drama gets all the more tangled.

Nemo loves his children, but they do not agree on the family business. Neither has an interest in running it. His son Carlos (Àlex Monner) wants to work with horses, while daughter, Nina (Giulia Charm), has an art gallery.

A tense, ongoing standoff between Nemo and the father of Carlos' boyfriend, Alejandro (Ricardo Gómez), along with its aftermath drives a lot of the conflict in the first episode and beyond. The ensuing aftermath impacts Carlos and Alejandro's romance. Throughout it all, their relationship consistently enthralls.

As for Nina, the spark between her and Mario is a flame the latter uses to light his secret agenda. Those are just some of the stories surrounding Nemo’s children with his wife Chon (Pilar Castro). There are even more. Then there is Nemo's oldest child. A daughter from a previous relationship.

That daughter is Lara (Claudia Traisac), and she despises Nemo with every fiber of her being for abandoning her mother. Her grudge is infallible. Nemo is remorseful and makes numerous attempts to reconcile and bring her into his family. Something, he makes an even higher priority in the wake of his diagnosis.

The effect of his Alzheimer’s disease is heartrendingly scripted and portrayed. José Coronado giving a performance that is undoubtedly one of the year’s best. He captures the pain surging through Nemo as he struggles to come to grips with his diagnosis and the ongoing dread of his family’s potential doom.

Nemo is a fascinatingly crafted character, and Coronado brings him to life in a brilliantly textured way. He can be intense in one scene and paternally calm in another. The series thrives on his performance, which magnetically anchors the entire opus.


As a series, “Unauthorized Living” contains one of the most moving father/daughter interactions ever, thanks to Nemo and his daughter, Nina. The scene involves a discussion on what it means for a parent to be one to an adult child and vice versa. It is indescribably poignant and indelibly affecting.

There are a lot of scenes like that in the series. Ones that resonate on a profound level. Nemo's talks with Carlos also telling a deep and thoughtful story about fathers and sons. The strained relationship between Laura and Nemo also leads to many moving moments. As a family drama, it knows no weaknesses. Its meditation on fatherhood and its various intricacies is well-explored here.

“Unauthorized Living” also deals in extreme villainy both obvious and not. Remarkably, that proves an asset when one would usually consider it a significant detriment. Thanks to the plentiful supply, there are no shortage of characters to root against or performances to be impressed by.

On the other side, Carlos, Nina, and their mother Chon account for Team Nemo, even if they are not often on it. When they are, they are rarely there at the same time. Carlos comes and goes the most. He is a complex character. Àlex Monner’s performance is remarkable and gripping as it maintains an ever-watchable edge.

Nemo’s wife, Chon, is a tragic figure whom the show and her portrayer develop in fascinating ways. Chon's unrequited love for Nemo and their crossed wires provide a breakdown of communication open for outside exploitation.

Nemo and Chon's story is an intriguing one with a rich backstory all its own. Again, this show is deep and so well-drawn that its every angle is absorbing.

Of all of the characters, “Unauthorized Living” seems to want us to care for the most, Lara is a no-go. A petulantly angry young person, whose horrible decisions make her next to impossible to empathize with. You want to feel for her. However, Lara's actions make that impossible.

The cast “Unauthorized Living” assembled throughout its first season is beyond impressive. Familiar faces, such as Leonor Watling are leveraged to excellent levels. Thanks to the ensemble’s exceptional performances, the show has incredible depth. Whether dealing with an outright villain, or someone in between, they are fantastic.

Nemo is the key to the show though and Season 1 speeds up his condition to the point, it is hard to tell how much longer he can he hold on. However long that is, this viewer will be riveted.

Rating: 9.5/10


The first season of “Unauthorized Living” (“Vivir sin Permiso”) is currently streaming on Netflix. Its second season has not gotten a release date yet.

[Featured Image by Netflix/TeleCinco]

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