Narcos Review

By Simon Crocker

In this generation, crime TV shows have gained a larger demographic than ever.  Television shows like The Wire, Breaking Bad and Sons of Anarchy have captured the attention of millions of people.  So what makes Netflix’s new TV show, Narcos, special?  Be warned, the following article contains spoilers.

Narcos excellently portrays Columbia’s “descent into madness,” not only on the side of the Narcos (a nickname given to the drug dealers), but on the side of the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) as well.  Even Pablo (Wagner Moura) wasn’t always evil, as you see in the show, the man who at the beginning was furious at his partner, Gacha (Luis Guzman), for killing a dog, turned into a man who ordered his goons to murder a wife and baby of one of his former employees to disconnect him from an airplane bombing that brutally killed many people.  As well as this, it shows that the American government isn’t always made up of the good, proud, righteous men that they would have you believe they are.  The DEA often has to manipulate the government for their own good because certain documents are not worth giving to the DEA just to stop Narcos.  In one episode, a bloody raid conducted by the DEA on a restaurant with narcos in it leads to the death of a civilian, rather than owning up to it the DEA tries to cover it up.  Even the main protagonist, Murphy (Boyd Holbrook), slowly descends into madness to the point where, in episode 9, you see him pull a gun on a taxi driver when the driver yelled at Murphy for hitting his cab.  All of this was done in front of his wife and his infant child.

Another thing that makes Narcos special is the authentic feel it gives off.  Narcos uses many Latino actors, a Latino soundtrack, and even has the Latino characters speak Spanish, a nice touch for those who’ve always been skeptical of the Nazis who speak perfect english in Indiana Jones.  The various city streets, fancy estates, and rural fields and jungles make for a very visually appealing and accurate setting, they do an incredibly good job of making you feel like it’s real, rather than a television studio or some fake location that isn’t even close to Columbia.  They even use real Colombian stories and legends that continue to add to the real feel of the setting, for example, in one episode a Colombian woman is talking about her homeland and how it was the most beautiful land in all of the world.  However, to make it fair for the rest of the world, God cursed the land with men with hearts of evil.  Legends and folklore like this as well as authentic clothing and vehicles of the era make for a very realistic representation of 1980’s Columbia.

Episodes of Narcos last about 50 minutes on average and the show is rated TV-MA.  Narcos’ story line shows the fragility of South American government and how America’s appetite for drugs can tear apart families and essentially destroy entire countries.  It addresses very real problems in the world as well as making a very entertaining television show, I would recommend it to anyone who has anywhere from 45 to 50 minutes and is looking for a television show  that is compelling but also has its fair share of violence.

Pablo Escobar and his cousin, Gustavo, discussing business in "Narcos"
Pablo Escobar and his cousin, Gustavo, discussing business in “Narcos”