OTP Tracker

From nOTP to OTP in 4 Steps: The Evolution of Elite’s Nadia/Guzman

It started as a bet—how did it end up like this?
Guzman and Nadia in Elite season 1

Relationship: Guzmán Nunier Osuna and Nadia Shanaa (Guznadia)
Fandom: Elite (TV series, 2018- )
Where to Watch: Netflix
Time Investment: 24 (one-hour) episodes over 3 seasons
Recommended for: Fans of Veronica/Logan in Veronica Mars and/or Sebastian/Annette in Cruel Intentions

Spoiler warning: This post will ruin some surprises about Elite season 1 for you if you’re not caught up.

Love at first sight, it is not.

When Guzmán Nunier Osuna first claps eyes on Nadia Shanaa, a new scholarship student at the ritzy private school where he’s treated like a prince, he views her through a lens of prejudice. He sees her hijab and nothing else, snidely dismissing her as “the Palestinian who walks around in a turban.” Big mistake. Big. As his entitled, arrogant ass quickly learns in the first season of Netflix’s Spanish teen soap Elite, Nadia is not someone to be trifled with and can take care of herself. More than that, she’s a smart, compassionate, all-around good person that he’d only be so lucky as to call a friend, let alone his novia. 

There’s no denying the (unwilling) attraction between Guzmán and Nadia, but otherwise, the first few episodes of Elite leave you with the impression that they’d be completely toxic together. That if you were Nadia’s friend IRL, you’d tell her she deserves someone so much better than a mercurial bully. And you’d be correct! To become worthy of her time, let alone her love, he’d need to be taken down a peg or five, plus pull off a believable redemption arc. Veronica Mars’ Logan Echolls (once known as a “psychotic jackass,” now that show’s beloved leading man) is proof positive that it can be done, but he’s a hard act to follow.

Given the headline of this article, though, you can guess that he succeeds, at least in this Guzmán/Nadia shipper’s eyes. Still, you’re probably wondering: How exactly do they evolve from a nOTP into a One True Pairing deserving of all the meta, fic, and other fanworks created in their honor? It’s quite a feat, but one that can be broken down into four deceptively simple steps, told from Guzmán’s perspective.

Fall for them all over again with this retrospective of Nadia and Guzmán’s unlikely love story:

Step 1: Make a shitty, ill-conceived bet.

Nothing makes you look like a tool more than letting your bored, petty girlfriend manipulate you into a Cruel Intentions-esque game. Yet that’s exactly what happens in the first episode of Elite. Guzmán, in full asshat mode, agrees to a bet with his longtime girlfriend, Lucrezia (a.k.a. Lu), that he can charm Nadia into sleeping with him so that they can then use that information to embarrass her, just for kicks. Horrible, right?

Only the fact that Nadia has no trouble resisting Guzmán, forcing him to chase her, does this ship have even the slimmest chance at changing course before it runs right into an iceberg, never to recover. Nadia, it turns out, is the one with the power in this dynamic, and that’s enough to keep you watching at first.

Step 2: Fall in love for real.

Here’s the thing: Neither Guzmán nor Lu accounted for the possibility that he could develop genuine feelings for the target of their cruel game. You can tell they’re both shocked when Guzmán realizes he likes and respects Nadia, who’s unafraid of being exactly who she is, unlike him. Honestly, it would be kinda pathetic how quickly Guzmán starts crushing on her, if Nadia didn’t turn out to have her own fatal weakness: him.

See, Nadia may not be taken in by Guzmán the player, but she’s understandably vulnerable when he drops the cocky swagger and smarmy manners that she can see right through. Especially when he confesses that, because he’s adopted and doesn’t feel like he really belongs anywhere, he uses his body and charm to get what he wants. Fear is a voice in his head telling him that people won’t want the real him. Of course, this new insight into his abysmal behavior isn’t an excuse, nor does Nadia treat it like that. It does seem to help her understand him a bit more, though. She begins sharing her own truths with him, opening the door to a genuine friendship.

If you can block out of your mind that he hasn’t backed out of the wager with Lu by this point in the story, you can almost forget your reservations about them. The chemistry is certainly there, as evidenced by a very flirty tussle by the pool where they each jokingly made as if to push the other in, like a couple of 10-year-olds with their first crushes. Which is…not so far from the truth!

In fact, it’s later on in that same pool that Guzmán sees a chance to win the bet. Nadia unknowingly gulps down a drugged drink at party and asks to swim in his pool, where they tread water close enough that their legs nearly brush and stare deeply into each others eyes like lovesick fools. He’s set up the camera on his phone, ready to film the whole thing…until he abruptly realizes he can’t go through with it. Decision made, he tells Nadia that she’s high and he’s sending her home in a cab, turns off the camera, and officially scraps that despicable bet.

It’s also at the pool, albeit a different one, that a jealous Lu—seeing how close Nadia and Guzmán have grown and wanting nothing so much as to reverse it—lashes out by telling Nadia that he’s only interested in her because of their bet. As she listens to Lu lay out the details, Nadia stares accusingly across the pool at a horrified Guzmán, who knows he’s fucked up a good thing with her.

Since Nadia had just finished thanking him for not taking advantage of her lowered inhibitions and acting the gentleman (oh, the irony), his betrayal must sting all the more to her.

Step 3: Grovel, grovel, grovel.

As entertaining as it is to watch the bad boy suddenly chase after the good girl, that’s nothing without some evidence that he’s truly sorry for the way he treated her in the past. By which I mean, there’s gotta be some amazing groveling.

Guzmán doesn’t handle the immediate post-bet aftermath well. When Nadia confronts him privately, he tells her basically that he didn’t do anything she wasn’t fully participating in, though he puts it more crudely than that. She slaps him, and he deserves it. Once he’s had some time to come to terms with how deeply he’s hurt her, though, he embarks on a heartfelt apology tour, as is only right.

Unmoved by his pleading, Nadia’s nevertheless unsuccessful in getting him to drop it so they can both move on with their lives. So she informs him that the only way she could ever forgive him would be if he apologized to her parents, on his knees. Since he’d never, ever do that, she assumes that’ll be the end of that. But Guzmán, not realizing she made that up as a way to get back at him just a little bit, takes her at face value and shows up at her family’s home to earnestly beg their pardon. When he drops to his knees, Nadia suddenly pops up, grabs his arm, and pulls him out of the room. 

The gesture goes a long way to showing his sincerity, and so does a sweet gift he leaves in her locker, a pink hijab. If her enthusiastic text thanking him for it are any indication, she gets the message he’s trying to send, that he respects her faith and likes her just the way she is.

She wears the hijab proudly to school the next day, to his obvious pleasure, the glow of which only dims as he clarifies that he doesn’t want her forgiveness because he doesn’t deserve it. This strikes a chord with Nadia, who takes that as a sign that he’s truly contrite. It’s a vital turning point for them and one that is bound to soften your heart toward him; it’s hard not to forgive him after this, even if you never forget what a jerk he was in the beginning.

Step 4: Start again.

Does Guzmán deserve a second chance? Maybe not. Probably not, even. Nadia chooses to give it to him anyway, generous person that she is, though makes it clear that she’s only willing to be friends. Nevertheless, this fresh start is when you can’t help but start to root for them in earnest, since whatever lip service passes their mouths, their body language shouts that they want each other BAD.

From that point on, they work on building a relationship built on honesty, for better or worse. Do they argue? Absolutely; the fact that they come from entirely different worlds comes up again and again. Is Nadia still healing from the wounds caused by that mean-spirited bet between Guzmán and Lu? No doubt about it. Much as she tries to leave their past entirely in the rearview mirror, it does catch up to her sometimes when she’s feeling cornered by some fight they’re having.

It doesn’t help that Lu still floats in and out of the picture, because Guzmán can’t seem to cut ties with her entirely, given their own long history and the (twisted but real) comfort they’ve provided each other over the years. Things are certainly complicated between Guzmán and Nadia, but they face their problems head on now, and they don’t lie to each other (at least, not if they can help it? They are in a teen melodrama).

Trading confidences on the stairs at school, sharing headphones, and offering each other support through tough family dramas demonstrate just how good they can be together. Confessions of “I don’t want to be your friend” and teasing replies that “You’ll have to get used to not getting everything you want” only add to the sense that—however they felt about each other the first time they saw each other—everything has changed.

Flash forward a few years. Elite‘s third season has just dropped on Netflix, and so much has unfolded since those first few episodes of the show. The pair have grown closer, been forbidden by her parents from seeing each other, confessed their love, gone on-again/off-again. But no matter what happens between them, I’ll always be blown away by how these two transformed into one of my very favorite TV couples.

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(Note: If you’re new to the show, beware of later-season spoilers)

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