Leo has formed a group of friends, made up of fellow hospital patients, who support each other and are united in their pain. This is the storyline of Braccialetti Rossi (Red Bracelets) a much-loved drama that has been broadcast on the Italian public TV RAI since 26 January 2014
In the third season, which ended recently after keeping fans company for eight weeks, Leo, who has been ill for years, is on the verge of death: he has an aggressive tumour, which - statistically - only one patient in ten recovers from… and he does not seem to be among the fortunate few, with treatment having little effect.
Parallel to Leo’s drama, are those of his friends: there is Bobo, with a severe heart defect, Nina with breast cancer, Flam, with vision problems. Close to them are the attentive doctors: passionate, sensitive, with a deep humanity, new traveling companions and old "bracelets", recovered but still deeply attached to those who are still fighting.
How the story began
Braccialetti Rossi is the Italian version of the Catalan series Polseres Vermelles. The stories are based on a true story, recounted in the autobiographical work of Spanish writer Albert Espinosa, cured after being ill with cancer for ten years.
The value of life, in every circumstance
Leo knows he could be facing death, but accepts life the way it is. In a sort of dream, he is offered the opportunity to "change it", to have a "normal" life, in which the disease never existed. But to have it, he would have to give up his friends and girlfriend, who he has met ‘thanks’ to cancer.
If the idea excites him at first, in only a short time he realises he does want to change anything about what has happened and decides to accept his path. He realizes that he developed close ties, unique, in the years he has been forced to stay in the hospital, ties that have enriched and changed him.
Leo thus reveals an essential anthropological aspect, often forgotten in our society, where it is believed that well-being comes first: that humans need love, genuine relationships, even more than bread and health.
Although the series references little God or themes of religion, there are several references to the afterlife and the possibility of life after death: the authors seem to be saying that our existence is not intended to finish "here" because it is part of a larger plan. "I'll love you wherever I'll be," Leo tells his fiancée before facing a delicate operation, from which he may never wake up.
Be a light for others
Leo, exhausted by the disease, cares more for his friends than for himself, and also decided to create a radio, to inspire courage in those who are in the same boat.
Through it agrees to tell his own experience and that of others "bracelets". He wants to testify that "the dark is different from the vacuum", as one of the soundtrack songs to the series states: that it is pain with those we love is preferable to the emptiness of selfishness, indifference and of loneliness, even in a state of health and wealth.
Everyone deserves dignity
The series can be credited with defending the dignity of life in in whatever state - even if short-term or contaminated by disease - and in every stage.
Cris, girlfriend of Leo, discovers she is pregnant: she is very young and knows that the chance of having to raise the child alone is high. The family would like to force her to have an abortion, but she defends "her little one": it is a microscopic creature, only three weeks old, but that child "has the right to be born like everyone else." She says that she loves him so much already and that will bring it into world at any cost.
For her decision, Cris is thrown out of home, but is supported by her friends. Leo also reacts positively to the news: he is happy to be a father, and sees in the child one more incentive to heal. "It's just a bean” – he says pointing to the tiny dot appeared in the monitor during the ultrasound test– “but I already want him to have the best in the world ".
There is no distinction: Life is life and deserves respect and love in every circumstance…
Some flaws in the series
The excessive dramatization of suffering and death make the series sometimes fall into melodrama. Some storylines are unreal and twists far-fetched.
In addition, next to the beautiful values, there are negative values: for example, sexuality is lived somewhat irresponsibly, and too quickly.
Finally it should be noted that it gives more importance to friendships that the family, which is relegated to "standard relational sphere B".
One of the series most loved by youngsters
The balance, however, remains positive: Braccialetti Rossi is one of the few series that proclaims convincingly how beautiful life can be, in every situation ... And the determination, the courage, the tenacity, the tenderness, the unity of the characters can help those who find themselves in circumstances similar to them.
For this reason, the series is very popular, especially among young people: we at Family and Media have been able to test it through a survey conducted last summer with teenagers. Taking a cue from this series, some interesting discussions emerged and many young respondents said that fiction can show strongly the importance of friendship, solidarity, support in suffering: aspects that in their view improve dramatically the quality of life.