The world is split into three kinds of people: avid astrology fans (the kind who know everything there is to know about the zodiac), hobbyist horoscope readers (who have a basic understanding of at least their own star sign, if not more), and staunch non-believers.
Whichever category you fall into, though, believe us when we tell you that Netflix’s new documentary film about Puerto Rican astrologer and psychic Walter Mercado is an absolute must-watch. In fact, we have a feeling it’s going to be every bit as big as Tiger King and Unorthodox – if not bigger.
Mucho Mucho Amor: The Legend Of Walter Mercado arrived on the streaming platform earlier this month, alongside countless other TV shows and movies. Despite heavy competition, however, the absorbing documentary has proven itself to be one of the best things to watch on Netflix right now.
Indeed, reviews of the film are so overwhelmingly positive that it has been awarded a 100% ‘fresh’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
With that in mind, then, here’s everything you need to know about Netflix’s Mucho Mucho Amor.
So, what’s the plot of Netflix’s Mucho Mucho Amor?
“Dazzling and tender-hearted, legendary astrologer Walter Mercado vanished at the peak of his fame,” reads Netflix’s synopsis. “This documentary poignantly explains what happened.”
Before armchair detectives get too excited, though, it’s worth noting that this is not a true-crime investigation. Far from it, in fact. Because, at its heart, Mucho Mucho Amor spins a familiar tale of – to borrow a line from Hamilton – an Icarus who has flown too close to the sun. Of a dreamer who soars upwards to reach the dizzying heights of fame, only to be pulled back down by the harsh realities of life below. Of a man who makes good on his destiny to become someone, only to learn that…
Well, that becoming someone almost always comes at a cost. More on that later.
Is there a trailer for Netflix’s Mucho Mucho Amor?
You can watch the trailer for Netflix’s Mucho Mucho Amor below.
Who was Walter Mercado, the man at the centre of Netflix’s Mucho Mucho Amor?
Walter Mercado, also known by his stage name Shanti Ananda (a translation in Sanskrit of “peace happiness”), was raised in the sugar cane fields of Puerto Rico. Relentlessly bullied for being different, Mercado was encouraged by his mother to embrace his uniqueness as a gift – and so he did just that. He celebrated gender non-conforming fashion, donning capes, and Armani, and Swarovski crystals. He defied restrictive masculine expectations. And, of course, he nurtured his spiritual and clairvoyant talents, and began his astrology career as a television and radio mystic began in 1969.
At the height of his fame, Mercado’s image was broadcast to millions of viewers across the United States and Europe. He preached love and light via his televised horoscopes to 120 million Latinx viewers every single day for 30 years.
But then, seemingly without any warning whatsoever, Mercado vanished from the public eye.
To reveal too much about Mercado’s disappearance is, of course, akin to dishing out spoilers. Rest assured, though, that the documentary – which blends insightful interviews, revealing archival footage, and stunning tarot-inspired animations – doesn’t just wrap this mystery up with a satisfying conclusion: it also works hard to celebrate Mercado’s legacy in the Latinx culture.
Who produced Netflix’s Mucho Mucho Amor?
The film was directed by award-winning documentarians Cristina Costantini and Kareem Tabsch, and produced by Alex Fumero.
What are people saying about Netflix’s Mucho Mucho Amor?
As mentioned, reviews for Netflix’s Mucho Mucho Amor have been overwhelmingly positive.
Lauran Coates, writing for Culturess, notes that the film’s “effortless combination of whimsical mysticism, quiet reverence, and just the right dash of over-the-top eccentrics makes it the perfect tribute to Walter Mercado.
Josh Flanders, for The Chicago Reader, adds: “This delightful, intimate documentary offers a glimpse into Walter’s remarkable career as well as a nostalgic journey for the millions in Latinx families who love him.”
And Kiko Martinez, for The San Antonio Current, says simply: “Sometimes nostalgia can fool the heart, but not with Mercado. He exudes love, and we all benefit.”
Over on Twitter, meanwhile, viewers are every bit as into the film as critics.
“It’s 2am and I didn’t know I was waiting my whole life for this documentary about the life of #WalterMercado,” tweeted one.
Another noted: “As someone who watched Walter Mercado as a kid, thank you Netflix for the special!!! It made me happy and cry… I loved it! I loved the ending credits too. There’s no other way to end it.”
“He used to be a star but now he’s a constellation,” added another, alongside a GIF reaction of Barack Obama wiping a tear from his eyes.
Elsewhere, another viewer tweeted: “Walter Mercado was a light and a gift, and we were so blessed to have him. I hope he’s resting well. Congrats to everyone involved in #MuchoMuchoAmor it was beautiful.”
“Turned on #MuchoMuchoAmor knowing zip about #WalterMercado and now I’m cutting onions,” shared another. “For a country Boricua boy born in 1932 into rigid homophobia to live a life celebrated worldwide by generations of Latinos and queer folks? That’s a reason to ignore people who say you can’t change world.”
And still one more said: “Oof when I see Walter Mercado’s name trending on Twitter my heart skips a beat. He would be so happy to see this reaction from the Latinx community, he was always so shocked that those of us who grew up with him still loved him so deeply. Thank you Walter!”
Others, of course, have honed in on the villain of the piece: Bill Bakula, Mercado’s exploitative ex-manager who built his client’s name and brand, but later on, tried to take ownership of them.
“Bill Bakula is the Latinx Carole Baskin,” noted one.
“Good morning to everyone except Bill Bakula,” tweeted another.
And another, ever so bluntly, tweeted: “Fuck Bill Bakula. That’s all.”
So where can I watch Netflix’s Mucho Mucho Amor?
It’s still available on the streaming platform now. Happy viewing!
Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.