The hypnotizing Spanish music began to play, white powdery cocaine puffed across the screen and a real photo of the drug kingpin Pablo Escobar appeared, surrounded by his crew of bikers. Stacks of money dropped in slow motion on top of one another, and faded into an infographic map of Columbia. It was just the intro, and Netflix’s original show “Narcos” already caught my interest.
“Narcos” has found its home on the ‘most popular’ section of Netflix since its debut in late August. The show follows the formation of the Colombian drug trade in the 80’s, highlighting Escobar’s operation of the billion dollar drug trafficking industry and the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) pursuits to catch him. Throughout the show, Escobar is paralleled by a DEA agent, who serves as the narrator.
Over the course of the 10 50-minute episodes, I grew to appreciate the perceptive style of the show. Unlike a documentary, the show’s fictional aspect let me see so many different sides of Escobar: his thought process, his relationship with his family and the ruthless outlaw he was. The DEA agent as the narrator was helpful and intriguing, because it gave information that the dialogue didn’t provide.
The show constantly reminds the viewer the reality of the plot, by incorporating evidence, adding in real video footage and photos of both Pablo Escobar and the DEA agent. The show seemed to stick closely to real life events, but managed to keep me as entertained as “Gossip Girl” could.
The editing of the show was as well crafted as the plot. I noticed that the intense scenes of killing, arguing and smuggling had a dark color theme and close-up, detailed shots. Yet, during family scenes and celebratory moments, the color scheme would include bright colors and broader shots. This is the sort of attention to detail that is carried through the entire series, an element that separates “Narcos” from mediocre television shows.
Throughout the episodes, I found myself rooting for Escobar. This obviously made me feel somewhat uncomfortable, as I was basically siding with the man who made pregnant women swallow cocaine tablets to transport the drug and paid people for each policeman they killed. The same man that shamelessly blackmailed government officials. Escobar was not my usual protagonist.
The actor succeeded at creating an unpredictable portrayal of Escobar, always keeping me on the edge of my seat, wanting to know more. It made kicking back in my living room to watch the next episode (or three) so much more enjoyable.
If you like documentaries, thrillers and dramatic plot twists, this is the show for you.
I know it’s the show for me because I love the how planned and detailed every part is, from the combination of narration and fictional elements, to the angles and editing in the filming.
With detailed images of cocaine labs and public officials turning a blind eye to trafficking, every minute of the show is simply brilliant.
When I hit episode ten, I was almost hesitant to watch it, knowing that it would be the last one…for now. Narcos is in the process of making a second season to elaborate on the fantastic story of Escobar’s Empire. The anticipation of waiting for season two to come out is as difficult as it is for the DEA to catch Escobar.