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TV Waffle - NARCOS (Season One)

Debut season of Netflix's latest original series.


Review by Emily Craig (@emillycraig)



"The creators of the show have done themselves proud as Narcos does indeed live up to the other great shows available on Netflix; it’s educational, violent, as you would expect, and bulging with thorough information."




Narcos is the latest addition to the ever-growing collection of Netflix exclusive TV programmes; with the likes of Orange is the New Black (2013-) and House of Cards (2013-) gaining universal praise, Narcos has a lot to live up to.

Narcos is about the rise and fall of Colombian drug smuggler Pablo Escobar (Wagner Moura) who was known as “The King of Cocaine” and notably one of the richest criminals in history. The 10 episode show follows Escobar as his Medellin drug cartel empire takes over Colombia and America while the Drug Enforcement Agency do their best to try and capture him.


The gritty stylistic show is told from DEA agent Steve Murphy’s (Boyd Holbrook) point of view; throughout the show he provides the voiceover, telling the audience pretty much what is happening at that time in the episode. Although Holbrook looks strikingly like the real life Steve Murphy, part of me thinks he was miscast, or that his character wasn’t developed enough. As Holbrook is the voice behind the TV show, he is the audience’s main point of sympathy and there isn’t an awful lot to like about his character. We don’t get to see much of Murphy in his everyday life, apart from a few scenes with his wife (Joanna Christie), which are nothing to write home about. I found myself connecting more with Murphy’s partner Javier Peña, who has a softer side to even out Murphy’s brashness.

That being said, the rest of the casting is fine, and the acting (including Holbrook) is done extremely well. The character of Pablo Escobar is developed greatly throughout the 10 episodes. At the beginning of the show, we see emotion from his character; in one episode he calls somebody out for killing a dog. We also see the loving relationship between him and his wife, Tata (Paulina Gaitan); apart from him having an affair with journalist Valeria (Stephanie Sigman), he really does seem to care deeply for Tata, which shows him in a positive light to begin with. So, when Escobar finally lets money get the better of him, it’s more of a shock for the audience as he was somebody they once connected with, despite being one of the world’s notorious criminals.


Narcos shows just how much power money can give you; there is so much double crossing and corruption going on that if you even blink, you may miss something. It’s definitely not a programme you can put on whilst multitasking – you need careful attention to take everything in as it's very dialogue heavy. The show is shot well and captures the '70s and '80s mise-en-scene accurately. What I like most about Narcos are the elements of docudrama; in the title sequence there are photos and real footage of the people the show is based on, which made me feel like I was watching something of historical importance. It doesn’t stop there either; throughout the series footage and photographs are incorporated into the story seamlessly and some might not even tell the difference between the real Escobar and Moura. I haven’t seen this docudrama twist in many fictional TV shows, so I must praise it on its originality.


After only being on Netflix for a week, Narcos has already been renewed for a second season. With the ending of season one not being satisfying where justice is concerned, I hope the second season will be slowed down a bit to concentrate on Escobar’s final years. The creators of the show have done themselves proud as Narcos does indeed live up to the other great shows available on Netflix; it’s educational, violent, as you would expect, and bulging with thorough information.