First airing on TVN between 2012 and 2014 and then acquired by Netflix in 2017, the television series El reemplazante chronicles the narrative arc of Carlos Valdivia, a successful financial executive sentenced to three months in prison after committing securities fraud. After serving his sentence, he is fired from his lush position in the central business district of Sanhattan and returns to his humble origins in the San Miguel neighborhood of Santiago to work as a mathematics teacher. Here, he joins the students and other community members in fighting the privatization of the school system—a plot point based on real social tensions in Chile at the time of the series’ being broadcast. While at first glance it may seem that the protagonist’s politics aim to subvert the neoliberal status quo that is a result of economic measures taken during the years of Pinochet’s dictatorship, a closer analysis results in an altogether different reading. This essay explores the tropes of the tragic hero and superhero alluded to in the first episode of the series, to suggest that the dialectic planted by these narrative types allows an exploration of the mechanisms and structures of feeling (based on theories by Raymond Williams) of the neoliberal model. I analyze the circulation of emotions between the protagonist and his students, and—in a broader context— between the diegesis and the viewer. In doing so, I argue that the message of subversion is really not subversion at all, but rather a continuation and appeasement of the neoliberal ethos.


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pp. 113-131
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