TV Series Recommendation: Narcos

Ever since Colombian footballer Andreas Escobar was shockingly shot dead (after his own goal in World Cup 1994 led to Colombia’s exit) by the drug mafia, my inquisitiveness in knowing Colombia increased multifold. The Colombian drug cartel was started by Pablo Escobar, from a petty thief in 1970s, and he had so much money in a decade that needed random fields to dig and hide millions of dollars.

Pablo Escobar has more movies, tv series made about his life than for any sportsman, terrorist leader, politician, world leader, drug lord or underworld kingpin
Simply put, there have more movies and TV series made on Pablo Escobar than on any other politician, sportsperson, world leader, drug warlord, terrorist leader or underworld kingpin. Yes, if you google, you will find a list of best movies about Pablo Escobar. Yes there is an attempt to glorify him and his trade in almost all of those productions.

Narcos, an original Netflix production, aims to better all what’s done before. It’s a bilingual TV series (50:50 Spanish & English) and hence one will need to focus on the rapid subtitles. That aside, the series has its fair share of Pablo’s allies (other drug cartels, family, henchmen, press and politicians), enemies (CIA, American DEA – Drug Enforcement Agency, Colombia police and local government) and double crosses. So your attention needs to stay fully focused. As the narrator, DEA agent Steve Murphy, smirkingly says in the opening lines “and pay attention to this..”.

Narcos is gritty, bloody, direct and well crafted crime thriller. There’s quality sex scenes, chase scenes, fight sequences and edge of seat drama. Almost every episode, you can expect Pablo Escobar to hunt down a few of his enemies or spread terror in a way which will give you ‘eeeeks’ moments.

The series is shot in perspective of two DEA officers who join hands with multiple teams in breaking down the empire although individually always struggling to make their mark. They were up against it.

Pablo literally owned Colombia for decades, from a very young age. How he grew as a drug lord, reached his dream of being a politician and then took vengeance on the state (once his political ambitions was cut short) makes basis of Narcos Season 1.

Narcos makes not just for outstanding viewing, but fascinating repeat viewing also. This is because there is ample depth given to every character, so that you can watch the series from other person’s view point too. Also, while simillar series (or movie) tend to focus only on men and give streotyped roles to women, Narcos stands out.

In Narcos the women are shown to extreme manipulators and ones who have equal control over the proceedings. Pablo’s wife Tata never asks Pablo to change his ways despite complete knowledge and subtly makes her own demands – like returning back to Colombia even if it meant bloodshed. Or televsion presenter Valeria Velez, who literally pulls the strings to Colombia’s future – first by putting the politician (and Presidential dreams) carrot in front of Pablo, coining the mass appeal term ‘Paisa Robin Hood’, enjoying wild sex with him, aiding him later in all the crimes and also dreaming of a future with Pablo.

If the genre suits you, it’s a must see. And keep your strong heart with you, mandatory during viewing. The performances are absolute top notch – specially the roles played by Pablo Escobar, his cousin Gustavo, President Gaviria, his aid Sandoval, Search bloc lead Horatio Carrillo and DEA agent Javier Pena. The weakest of the cast maybe narrator cum DEA agent Steve Murphy himself, but his sense of balance, does go well with the pandemonium around.

Narcos Season 2 is due release on September 2 and would see the end of Pablo Escobar. Season 2 is very highly anticipated globally.

This is Netflix’s answer to ‘Gangs of Wasseypur’. I end this piece with one of the many brilliant dialogues that summarizes Pablo Escobar – “In the United States, the Mafia makes witnesses disappear so they can’t testify in court. In Colombia, Pablo Escobar made the whole court disappear.”

My Rating: 4.5/5

IMDB Rating: 8.9/10

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