Netflix’s No Time for Shame — or No Hay Tiempo Para la Verguenza in its native Spanish — follows a humongous personality in Argentinian fashion designer Santiago Artemis. To call him flamboyant is to say Prince dressed like a pauper, or that the ocean is a wee bit damp. Like many upper-crust designers, Santiago creates custom clothing for celebrities when he’s not concocting new seasonal collections for the runway. But unlike almost everyone else on the planet, he sticks out like a sore thumb thanks to his vivid, highly effeminate style of dress and expressive, gregarious mannerisms. But is that enough to carry six episodes of a reality series?
NO TIME FOR SHAME: STREAM IT OR SKIP IT?
Opening Shot: An establishing shot of Ushuaia, a gorgeous seaside/mountainside city in Argentina.
The Gist: Santiago hails from Ushuaia, which he says is “literally the end of the world.” He moved away as a teenager, settling in Buenos Aires, where he established himself as a globetrotting fashion designer. And he’s only 26.
We meet his supporting cast: Luis is his current boyfriend. Pablo is his closest friend. Laura and Xhemi are highly skilled dressmakers, his right-hand women. Sandra is his psychiatrist, who he visits regularly. He’s a high-maintenance personality surrounded by enablers. But he’s just as much a driven visionary and workaholic. He chastises Pablo for not picking up him and Luis at the right airport gate. He’s finally back in Buenos Aires after a grueling, 36-hour journey from Tokyo, but his first stop isn’t home. He goes right to the office, because there’s work to be done.
First, Santiago greets Andres and Mariano for a consultation. They’re getting married — the first gay couple ever to hire Santiago to design suits for their wedding, and he’s rightfully excited. Santiago talks them into burgundy and off-white tailored jackets with gold accents. Then he fields a call from Angela Torres, a singer and TV star who needs a sporty outfit for a performance. He says yes, even though he doesn’t have much time. He needs to design his next collection, and so far, all of his sketches are crumpled up rejects in the wastepaper basket. He walks the streets looking for inspiration, and talks about his struggles with his shrink.
In the debut episode’s final act, Santiago dresses to the nines — which might actually be the elevens or twelves, considering his usual garb — to go clubbing. He hangs out with the performers in a drag revue, even learning their choreography and joining them on stage. Behind the curtain, he’s struck with ideas, and begins sketching. We also see the fruits of his other pursuits as he unveils Andres and Mariano’s gorgeous designs, and delivers Angela a baby-pink patent-leather onesie. Everyone LOVES Santiago and his work!
Our Take: Is Santiago more endearing or overbearing. Easy answer: both! The jury’s still out as to whether we’ll want to see him succeed or strangle him with his own enormous fur collar by series end — although that may depend on your tolerance for displays of rampant ego. Oh, and whether that ego is ever checked, which seems like a development No Time for Shame is working towards.
It also remains to be seen whether the series veers more towards the canned theatrics of reality TV or the more real reality of a documentary. Santiago frequently addresses the camera directly, offering commentary on amidst or in-between scenes, boldly sharing his viewpoints (“The idea of gender is bullshit,” he declares, refreshingly). He’s utterly unapologetic: Here I am, like it or lump it. Whether this amusing, potentially irritating tone will lead to vulnerable moments may dictate whether or not we empathize with his problems. Or maybe this IS him being vulnerable? Who knows.
Sex and Skin: None.
Parting Shot: Santiago and Angela laugh on her couch after he asks for a mostly friendly, sort of creepy thank-you kiss, and she somewhat reluctantly obliges.
Sleeper Star: I feel like Laura or Xhemi are (relatively, somewhat) no-nonsense types destined to give Santiago an ENOUGH ALREADY come-to-Jesus speech that gets him over the hump to finish his collection.
Most Pilot-y Line: “Am I seriously that difficult?” Santiago asks. “Maybe I am. I don’t know. Well, get over it!”
Our Call: STREAM IT. No Time for Shame deserves another episode before we pass judgment. So far, it’s lively, and Santiago seems mostly ready for primetime. But whether it’s a compelling glimpse at a fashion-industry up-and-comer or just self-promotion is yet to be determined.