Netflix's latest series Narcos spins viewers into a web of drama featuring ruthless DEA agents and drug lords, cocaine-smuggling pregnant women and teenage dope boys as "disposable as paper cups." Narcos revolves around the rise and fall of drug kingpin Pablo Escobar but also reveals the moral decay that spread through nations during The Reagan Era.
The show takes place primarily in Columbia and is narrated by DEA agent Steve Murphy (Boyd Holbrook). In the first episode Murphy is the average White man in an unknown land; ignorant of the culture but determined to catch the "bad guys." By the fourth episode, this assumption wavers. The show's informative voice-overs are reminiscent of Goodfellas; the complex characters on both sides of the law remind me of The Wire and the vibrant South American backdrop can draw comparisons to City of God.
If you've seen any of the aforementioned works, it's safe to assume that the content of Narcos can be triggering to some. By the second episode the casualties are countless. There is also a devastating rape scene that makes me question television's obsession with unnecessarily brutalizing women.
If you manage to withstand the series' inclination towards violence, Narcos is captivating. I can appreciate a villain with a heart; no matter how twisted they may be. Escobar scathes when an owner kills his dog but gleefully positions the corpses of his victims for a newspaper photo. Wagner Moura's portrayal of Pablo Escobar as a cool, intelligent man with rage rumbling right beneath his charismatic demeanor is chilling; especially considering the fact that Moura learned Spanish specifically for the role. With the exception of a few shout-outs from rappers, I knew very little about Escobar and the Medellin Cartel. Real photographs and footage of Pablo and his contemporaries juxtaposed within scenes reminds viewers that as absurd as it all may seem, the best of writers couldn't make half of this shit up.
As much as I enjoyed Narcos, I'm not sure if it's "binge-able." The Netflix series is sprinkled with Spanish subtitles so unless your fluent, you can't mindlessly watch for hours at a time. I found myself periodically pausing the show to Google key players in the coke game and fallen politicians. The intensity of Narcos won't allow leisure time for live tweeting the show or scrolling through your Instagram feed. It demands all of your attention and rightfully so. For this reason, I believe that the show should be enjoyed in measured quantities.
Narcos is an exhilarating ride that will you leave feeling deliriously high without the blow.
The series has already been green lit for a second season.