Netflix have only gone and done it again. Following the success of Orange Is The New Black and House of Cards, they’ve managed to conjure up yet another addictive series. Narcos follows the Colombian cocaine trafficker, Pablo Escobar, on his journey to conquer the country and his rise to power from a petty smuggler to head of the Medellin Cartel. Still in its first series, Narcos is sure to capture your attention and leave you wanting more.
Money, murder and muchachos are the key ingredients to the narco empire. Add a helping of drugs, women and exotic locations and you have a decent summary of Narcos. If you can see past the subtitles and the on-going influx of new characters to replace those that are killed, then Narcos is a series that will challenge you politically; US-Latin American relations are questioned constantly and Colombian politics brought to the forefront. It’s not the kind of programme that can be put on in the background while you make a cup of tea: Narcos is an intellectually challenging series that excites, enthrals and demands the focus of its audience.
As well as the dangerously likeable Pablo, Narcos follows two American DEA agents, played by Boyd Holbrook and Pedro Pascal, who are sent to Colombia to bring Escobar to justice and, incredibly, eliminate the drug trafficking industry. We join Escobar on his rise to power to the chief of arguably the most powerful drug cartel in Latin America during the 1980s. It starts off as fun and games, with lavish parties, secret affairs and tricky investigations but we are quickly transported to the darker side of life in Colombia during this time. Using real footage, we witness the damage and real-life casualties of Escobar’s war against the government and the havoc he left behind him as he tried to eradicate anyone who opposed his ideology.
The series begins with a significant shoot-out in a Colombian club that we are brought back to later on, once we’ve found our feet in the Medellin-DEA spat. From this moment we are taken back to the past so we can understand the string of events leading up to the massacre and how the initially unapparent significance of the incident. Although much of the episodes are in Spanish with a largely Hispanic cast, it’s not hard to see that the series is directed from an American point of view. Whether intended by the writers or not, the US is depicted as the heroic neighbour, albeit one that barges in to crush the conflicts of the impoverished Colombia.
Narcos is dramatic, complex and riveting; it’s made for those who are looking for a series that’s not just about the superficial. Although masked by the women, drugs and luxurious lifestyles of the cartels, Narcos perfectly illustrates the hard-hitting reality of Colombian politics and drug trafficking during the 80s and 90s.