Land of Women, review: Eva Longoria’s Spanish adventure is bland comfort TV

Victoria Bazua, Eva Longoria and Carmen Maura in Land of Women
Victoria Bazua, Eva Longoria and Carmen Maura in Land of Women - Apple TV+/Manuel Fernandez-Valdes

Men. Who needs ‘em? When glossy New Yorker Gala Scott (Eva Longoria) discovers that her no-good husband owes millions to gangsters, she high-tails it to rural Spain with her mother and teenage daughter. Men are a pain over there too: the first person she meets is an angry tractor driver who turns out to have bought her family homestead.

But guess what? The tractor driver is really handsome! I think you can see where this is going. There is a thread on the Reddit discussion site entitled: “Give me your worst ‘American woman goes to Scotland and falls in love with Scottish man in a kilt for Christmas’ movies”, and Land of Women is the Spanish, all-year-round equivalent. Uptight woman meets gruff man in stressful circumstances is a romcom plot that goes back to The African Queen and beyond, but streaming services have given it a new lease of life.

Amat (Santiago Cabrera) handsomely drives a tractor, handsomely sips red wine in the company of his dog, and handsomely invites Gala and her family to move into his house even though she’s madly annoying. She has only thought to pack outfits appropriate for the Upper East Side, so picks her way through the vineyards in stiletto heels and cream silk ensembles.

In addition to the will-they-won’t-they (spoiler: they will, and I can confidently predict that without having seen more than two episodes), there are other plot strands going on. Those gangsters are on Gala’s tail, in search of the $15 million owed by her husband. And Gala’s sprightly mother, Julia (Pedro Almodóvar regular Carmen Maura), has plenty of scores to settle and old romances to rekindle in the village she left as a teenager.

The series is based on a novel of the same name by Sandra Barneda, and would be better if the comedy was stronger. It just isn’t terribly funny, and Longoria doesn’t have the comic chops of someone like Sandra Bullock or Julia Roberts. The action is also clunkily predictable – when Gala’s lesbian daughter (Victoria Bazua) goes off to get the car fixed, you just know that the sexy mechanic who emerges from under the chassis is going to be female.

It’s blandly entertaining comfort TV, set against a gorgeously-shot backdrop. I would say it’s the kind of thing you can happily have on in the background while painting your nails or delousing the dog, except half of it is subtitled, so you’ll need to pay attention to the screen if Spanish isn’t your language.

Land of Women begins on Apple TV+ on Wednesday 26 June