According to VTsIOM, the state-owned pollster, over 80%
of Russians are aware of the series, with eight out of 10 who watched the series (82%) against its being banned.
The Tatar-language song “Piyala” by the hip-hop duo Aigel, which is featured in the series soundtrack, topped
Shazam’s worldwide chart. The soundtrack was not in the credits, even though it appeared in almost every episode, most likely because Aigel has spoken out against the war in Ukraine and left Russia. The series has also generated interest in the Tatar language. Following the show’s release, a petition on Change.org called
for Tatar to be added toDuolingo.
Interestingly, Slovo Patsana
became very popular in Ukraine. Spain’s El Pais wrote
that it had “rocked Ukrainian society” and reported that “it was the most viewed series on the internet in Ukraine.”
Ukraine’s Ministry of Culture released
a statement equating the series with hostile propaganda on behalf of the enemy.
“In the Ukrainian online space, especially among teenagers, a Russian-produced series that directly promotes violence, crime and an aesthetic characteristic of the aggressor country is spreading. It contains hostile propaganda, the dissemination of which in Ukraine during wartime is considered unacceptable,” the statement read.
According to BBC Russia
, many in Ukraine are outraged that “at the height of the war with Russia… young people could watch a Russia-made series” and are “demanding that Ukraine’s Security Service ban the series.” But such a ban would be pointless, as Ukrainians watch Russian productions mostly through already-illegal pirate streaming platforms.
Russian journalist Mikhail Shevchuk called Slovo Patsana
one of the most significant cultural phenomena in many years. In his view, the story has a strong political backdrop and can be deemed “anti-Soviet.” Shevchuk said that those accusing Slovo Patsana
of romanticizing violence were simply “seeing themselves in the mirror.”
“In these days when the country’s leadership is persistently trying to restore the empire and seriously indoctrinate schoolchildren for that purpose, someone has taken the initiative to show those same schoolchildren what the empire actually looked like from the inside,” said Shevchuk.
He added that the series clearly demonstrated that “by the end of its existence, the USSR itself had become genuinely anti-Soviet.”
ruthlessly narrates the disintegration of the social fabric of the USSR – the state could no longer protect or feed the people, and the people ceased to respect the state,” according to Shevchuk.
Yuri Saprykin, a subtle culture critic, praised
the series, dubbing it truly “grassroots,” owing to the fact that it was not aired on television and gained popularity because people from various social backgrounds and ages recommended it to one another.
“It is watched by children, by adults who remember those times and by adults who do not remember them. It is watched by… intellectuals and just your regular series audience. It somehow captivates everyone… that almost never happens,” said Saprykin.Slovo Patsana
“is universal, as it speaks about simple things everyone understands, such as friendship, betrayal, revenge and justice,” Saprykin writes. He adds: “it is too bad that it cannot be marketed on Netflix to see whether it would have international success. I think it would be highly successful, just as Spanish and Israeli series that have lately become global hits.”
Indeed, it was really hard to miss Slovo Patsana
, especially online. The hashtag #словопацана (“slovo patsana”) has hit
11.3 billion views on TikTok. Social media is also buzzing with videos from parties where people are
dancing to the 1980s hits featured in the series, rediscovering the dances from that era.
The slang from that time is also making a comeback. For example, the term “chushpan,” meaning “an outsider,” someone not involved in the gangs, has become popular again. After watching the series, a family from Kazan even named
their newborn son Chushpan.
Lots of families watched Slovo Patsana
together. Parents could reminisce about their youth with their kids, and teens shared
these stories online. Some videos
show how hooked on the show parents became.
Saprykin believes that Slovo Patsana
will go down in history as a cultural phenomenon. He said he can imagine anniversary screenings of the series in cinemas 20 years from now.