The most obvious cultural reference point for Barracuda Queens is The Bling Ring: both tell the based-on-real-life stories of a group of (mostly) wealthy young women who rob rich people’s houses. But where Sofia Coppola’s movie was rooted in a very specific era and explored the fascinating generational and psychological quirks that drove its disaffected teen burglars to do what they did, this Swedish Netflix series, at least in the first four episodes viewed for this review, makes only a half-hearted effort to evoke its ‘90s setting and takes a much soapier, less forensic approach to its story.
Here, the young women’s gateway into crime is the sky-high bill they rack up after a debauched weekend away. In need of cash to pay it off quickly, they convince themselves that they’re only robbing their wealthy neighbors to solve that problem, but other motivations soon arise. The women — who are mostly university-age, but seem closer to the protagonists of a teen drama — eventually begin to target people they have petty grievances with (like a love interest who spurns the ringleader after a one-night stand) as well as those who have wronged them more seriously (including a rapist, who gets off bizarrely lightly). The adrenaline rush of it all proves addictive for the gang, too. What’s more, for Mia (Tea Stjärne), the only member of the group not from a wealthy background, there’s also a Robin Hood-ish appeal to the burglaries, although this aspect regrettably takes something of a backseat to the girls’ escapades in the show.
Between the gang’s crime spree and their unbelievably dysfunctional home lives, there’s enough broad drama here to keep Netflix’s autoplay function in good use. Even if it doesn’t provide keen insight, sharp nuance, or a remotely realistic plot, the show does go beyond a surface-level approach by exploring something of the girls’ inner lives, the class dynamics of their friendship group, and the shallowness of their parents’ milieu. At three hours total — and with an opening scene that teases a dramatic rise-and-fall story ahead — it all makes for a very bingeable, if ultimately forgettable, watch.