Monday, January 4, 2016

Narcos on Netflix: Outstanding

We streamed Narcos on Netflix the past few evenings.  Like House of Cards, Peaky Blinders, and Bloodline on Netflix, and The Man in the High Castle on Amazon, Narcos is a powerful, top-notch kind of streaming television, every bit as good as and sometimes even a little better than the best we've seen on cable television.   As I pointed out in McLuhan in an Age of Social Media, we're undergoing a new revolution in television indeed, not just in the process of streaming, but in the narratives that are being streamed.

Wagner Moura's portrayal of Colombian drug king Pablo Escobar - at his height, the seventh richest person in the world - is so strong and sensitive that you almost find yourself rooting for him - that is, until he brutally murders yet another rival or political figure who gets in his way, and anyone that he rightly or wrongly perceives as disloyal.   Escobar was also responsible for the kidnapping - and the death that ensued as a Colombian military unit attempted to free her - of journalist Diana Turbay, and he had no problem bringing down and to their death a whole plane of people in an unsuccessful attempt to do away with a Colombian Presidential candidate who opposed him.

But, as if often the case with these sociopaths, for whom the life of just about anyone other than his immediate family is a commodity to be bartered and expended with if necessary in pursuit of his business, Escobar at least in this narrative on Netflix commands at very least our keen interest, and for that reason alone a part of us in not unhappy when he escapes against all odds over and over again.

Even as those who pursue him in the narrative become less human as their frustrations mount.   By the end of the first season, DEA agent Steve Murphy and Colombian President Gaviria, each compassionate in their own ways for most of this story, have become ruthless to the point of almost nothing else mattering except the killing of Escobar.

Superbly acted, beautifully photographed in verdant Colombia, the best news about Narcos is that it will be back for a second season - maybe a little later than expected, as recently reported - but it will be much welcome viewing whenever it's back.

See also Narcos 2: In League with The Godfather Saga

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