So… I’m of Colombian descent (first generation American), and the whole Pablo Escobar-the-drug-lord thing has always been fascinating to me. That’s fascinating, as in I find it interesting; not that I’m a fan and want to visit his grave (a tourist destination, I’m told.)
Look, the guy may have played a Robin Hood-type role in the way he used his massive drug empire earnings to build schools, hospitals, and soccer parks in poor Medellin ‘hoods, but he still killed, or was responsible for the deaths of, a boat load of people. Moreover, his empire contributed to an era that was an embarrassment for the country my parents came from. Consider that it was the world’s murder capital with 25,100 violent deaths in 1991 and 27,100 in 1992. Today, its tourism is on the rise.
I realize there is more to the story about the ‘war on drugs’ policy and what role the United States played in this all. It seems like drugs, and the money that comes with them, make the world go round and aren’t going away. Still, it doesn’t make me a fan of Escobar.
A few years ago, I watched a documentary called Cocaine Cowboys, about the rise of cocaine and resulting crime epidemic that swept the American city of Miami, Florida in the 1970s and 1980s. Those interviewed in the film argued that Griselda Blanco, an infamous crime family matriarch, played a major role in the history of the drug trade in Miami and other cities across America. Per the film, it was the lawless and corrupt atmosphere, primarily from Blanco’s operations, that led to the gangsters being dubbed the “Cocaine Cowboys.”
I was blown away. A female drug lord was behind all this? (And by this, I mean the woman invented drive-by motorcycle assassinations and tried to KIDNAP JFK, JR.) Again, I wasn’t a fan in the way one “roots” for Tony Montana while watching Scarface, but I always thought her story would make a killer movie. Well, there’s now a telenovela (Spanish for soap opera.)
The pilot episode, which begins with Blanco awaiting trial in a prison cell, nearly scared me off. It seemed the acting was overdone and the writing was pretty bad. But by episode two, things got interesting, thankfully. The show transitions to Blanco’s hard knock life upbringing and suddenly, I’m no longer wondering how a woman become such a ruthless drug queen.
The acting by those who play a young Blanco and her posse in Medellin is great, and the dialogue is superb. Best part? The soap is available on Hulu Plus.