“Narcos” has become one of my favorite Netflix originals since its first episode in 2015. It opened with the statement: “Magical realism is defined as what happens when a highly detailed, realistic setting is invaded by something too strange to believe.” Sometimes while watching the show, it really is almost impossible to believe that some of these events actually occurred.
“Narcos” follows the rise of Pablo Escobar and his cocaine empire through the 1970-1990’s in Medellin, Columbia. This show centers on the true (though dramatized) story of Pablo’s cartel as well as the two DEA agents on the hunt to capture and take him down.
Season two, released on Sept. 2, focuses on the mounting manhunt for Escobar and reveals his other enemies within the drug business. Now, with few allies to turn to and a new and ruthless team of DEA agents and military officials hot on his trail, on top of the other drug lords that want him dead, Escobar must make intense and brutal choices to reclaim his dominance and his position as the most dangerous drug lord of Columbia.
One aspect of the show that I really liked was how it reveals the issues made by the Colombian and U.S. government officials regarding the hidden drug politics as well as their involvement in the war on drugs. In the show, after the arrival of more DEA agents as the search for Escobar intensifies, the tension between both governments increases as both the Colombian police and DEA agents struggle to work together.
But it is really the show’s ability to make the audience sympathize with Escobar in spite of all his misdeeds that keeps me from doing my homework on time. Not that I agree with his tactics or morals, but I’m interested in the way he’s perceived as a “Robin Hood” figure to the communities in poverty. I also have to admit that I was impressed with his mind-bending tactics of hiring pregnant women to smuggle cocaine or hiring neighborhood kids to be on the look out for cops. Eventually I’m cheering on both sides, hoping that it’ll be a never-ending chase. This, and the fact that each episode ends in another twist that keeps you on the edge of your seat, are the reasons “Narcos” is one of my favorite shows.
One thing that I didn’t realize before watching “Narcos” was that the show was in both English and Spanish. Although I appreciate that they stayed true to the country’s original language, I found it occasionally difficult to follow, since I’m not fluent in Spanish and spent most of the time reading subtitles. I usually won’t invest in shows that require subtitles but this show was worth every word.
On the other hand, I wasn’t as much of a fan of the surprise sex scenes that didn’t always seem necessary. I also wish there was more screen time for women. There weren’t very many female leads in the first season; the women who are mostly shown are the ones smuggling cocaine for money. The second season improves somewhat as it focuses more on Pablo’s wife, Tata, and Judy Moncada, the widow of a narco, as they become more important and dominant characters to the plot. Although on opposite sides, these women are strong willed and deserve more focus.
If you enjoy movies similar to “The Godfather” or shows like “Mad Men,” then “Narcos” should be added to your list!