The Teatro Ribeiragrandense, in the Azores, hosted the pre-show for the “Rabo de Peixe” series as if it was “a party,” with the population counting on the Netflix production to “revolutionise” the fishing town’s image.

At the start of the night, dozens of people were gathered at the doors of Teatro Ribeiragrandense, at the city centre of Ribeira Grande, waiting for the pre-show of “Rabo de Peixe,” by Augusto Fraga, produced by Ukbar Films, and one of ten projects who won a script contest organised by Netflix and the Institute for Cinema and the Audiovisual.

The community of Rabo de Peixe partook in the crowd alongside political representatives, spokespeople for regional institutions, actors and crew members. After confirming their name on the guest list, everyone entered and occupied all 287 seats in the theatre, a full house.

The timid “good evening” from actor José Condessa, who entered the room with the secretary of Cultural Topics of the Azores government, was drowned out by the thunderous applause around the room.

Before the exhibition, the Ribeira Grande mayor, Alexandre Gaudêncio, took the stage to express a wish corroborated by the community of Rabo de Peixe, the largest parish in the municipality that takes up the North coast of São Miguel Island: “This will be the turning point for Rabo de Peixe.”

Lights went out and the anxious murmurs silenced out with the session’s beginning. The first episode was watched intently, with laughter erupting each time an expression typical of the town showed up.

At the end, a long and enthusiastic round of applause reflected the public’s reception to the series, expressed by the sentiment of the president of Rabo de Peixe parish, who admitted to leaving the session “more relaxed.”

“What the worry was of all people of Rabo de Peixe, and mine as governor, was that it would degrade the town’s image. We all know how reality often isn’t as it seems. We still haven’t seen the rest, but from what we’ve watched, I believe people will look at the series in a different light,” Jaime Vieira told Lusa.

The series, inspired by the dumping of half a ton of cocaine off the coast of the Azores in 2001, divided the local community, who feared the impacts the production would have on people’s perceptions and the stigma around Rabo de Peixe.

After seeing the pilot episode, the parish president considered the series to transmit a “strong message for young people” to “avoid the easier path” of drugs.

“After the first episode, the message I want to get across is the importance the series puts on preventing more young people from going down the path of drugs. Despite how easy it may look; the right path isn’t that. This series shows this well,” he surmised.

For the president, the parish needs to “take initiative” with the series to make people visit Rabo de Peixe for the “sincerity, humility and hospitality of its people.”

“What we feared would happen in the first episode didn’t come to be. We hope this to be a turnaround and recover our image. May this be a strong motivation for the town to grow.”