Are you watching Narcos? If not, why not? Because you definitely should be! It’s full of drugs, sex, violence, political corruption, and…subtitles. Yes, half of it is spoken in Spanish but having to read subtitles doesn’t mean you miss any of the show, it just means you have to concentrate a little more.
If anyone hasn’t heard of the show before, it’s a Netflix original based on the rise of drug trafficking in the 1980’s between Colombia and the United States, and how the American and Colombian governments tried to take down the cartels. It focuses predominantly on Pablo Escobar (Wagner Moura), the leader of the Medellin cartel, and two American DEA agents, Steve Murphy (Boyd Holbrook) and Javier Peña (Pedro Pascal), who are living in Colombia, trying to catch them. I put off watching the show for a while because, from the clips I’d seen it just looked like a lot of violence and not a lot else. Then I started watching and it had me hooked from the first few minutes; it is by far the most intense, gripping, eye-opening drama that I’ve watched in a while. Its docu-drama format, with real footage intertwined with fiction, gives it an extra edge, and its occasional comedic moments give you a break from the intensity of it all whilst never making light of how awful the situation in Colombia must have been.
Narcos does a lot of things right. It doesn’t shy away from sex and graphic violence, but neither is it gratuitous. It shows each side of the drug war in a surprisingly balanced way, even though you, as a viewer, know you’re supposed to be rooting for the Americans. It also got the casting of Wagner Moura as Escobar spot on. Moura gives a brilliant performance, striking the balance between calm and collected when making his ‘business deals’ or when shooting another person dead, and evoking emotion when it comes to his family – giving the character humanity. Moura gained weight, moved to Medellin, and learnt Spanish before filming began, and this dedication to the role certainly shines through in his performance. He also looks eerily like the real Escobar.
Although Narcos is a brilliant show it is definitely not perfect. Some of the acting leaves a lot to be desired, especially by Boyd Holbrook and Joanna Christie, who plays Murphy’s wife. I’m also not sure why they chose to have Holbrook narrating the show. Why did they decide that Steve Murphy would be a better character to follow than his partner, Javier Peña? I would personally prefer him to narrate as I find him far more interesting.
Narcos is definitely not a show you want to miss out on. Even if you think it may not be your cup of tea, give it a go. Just remember to say goodbye to the next ten hours of your life once you start watching because you won’t be able to stop yourself from binge watching.
Image by Flickr user Kainet