On January 25th, the criminal drama series “Griselda” was released on Netflix, based on the life of the drug lord known as “La Madrina,” Griselda Blanco. In this review, we’ll delve into how the American-Colombian model Sofia Vergara feels in such a role and why Netflix continues to produce shows about notorious drug dealers.
- Genre: Criminal biographical drama
- Director: Andrés Baiz
- Starring: Sofia Vergara, Alberto Guerra, Juliana Aiden, Vanessa Ferlito, Christian Tappan, Martin Rodriguez
- Premiere: Netflix
- Release Year: 2024
- IMDb: 8,3
Medellin, 1978. A distressed woman returns home, hastily tends to her wounds, quickly packs her belongings, takes her three sons, and arranges temporary shelter with a friend in Miami. It’s evident she’s fleeing from someone powerful and very dangerous, likely due to some wrongdoing.
In the United States, Griselda gets a chance to start a new life, but before leaving Colombia, she manages to take with her a kilogram of high-quality cocaine. In her attempt to sell the product, the protagonist unwittingly gets involved with local drug dealers, makes enemies and friends, and gets entangled in a brutal criminal life.
The thrill of the chase, excessive ambitions, and an unstoppable desire to single-handedly control the drug trade in the city likely drove Griselda to pursue her goal despite numerous gangsters in comical suits trying to hinder the Colombian matriarch. The drug lord didn’t shy away from playing dirty, ruthlessly dealing with competitors, and constantly asserting herself as the boss. But when you spend your whole life battling monsters, you eventually become one yourself.
“Griselda” is another criminal miniseries from Netflix about tough drug traffickers and the drug war. It’s hard not to mention Netflix’s hit “Narcos” and its spinoff “Mexico”; both were successful and well-received by both audiences and critics.
The new show opens with a quote from Pablo Escobar: “The only man I was ever afraid of was a woman named Griselda Blanco.” Thus, even if you haven’t heard of the titular character before, the creators immediately highlight the scale of her personality and influence.
Some of the creators of “Narcos” transitioned to “Griselda,” with Andrés Baiz directing all six episodes and the screenplay written by Carlo Bernard, Doug Miro, and Eric Newman. Clearly, the success of “Narcos” prompted Netflix to use a proven formula and delve into the story of drug lords and tough drug traffickers based on real events and characters. The streaming service is undoubtedly hoping for another hit, and this project has all the potential to become one.
It’s noteworthy that in Ukraine, two biographical dramas premiered last Thursday — “Golda” and “Griselda.” Both are about strong women, although with somewhat similar names, but with different characters and destinies. Golda Meir passed away in 1978, the same year the local story of Griselda Blanco begins. In both projects, the lead actresses, Helen Mirren and Sofia Vergara, are heavily made up. Both are constantly on fire.
If the film about the fourth Prime Minister of Israel dealt with the Yom Kippur War, the events in “Griselda” take place against the backdrop of the drug war — an even more repulsive and insidious phenomenon. The combative drug lord receives one betrayal after another but never allows herself to be defeated without retaliating, even more powerfully and unexpectedly.
At the initial stages, the creators somewhat lean towards siding with the heroine. However, the more she transforms into a criminal and ruthless killer, the less empathy she deserves. At some point, there will be no trace of her former self.
The creators offer not so much to pick a side, as there are no characters deserving of that, but to follow Blanco’s rise to the criminal throne and her subsequent fall into the abyss.
The overall narrative dynamics, Griselda’s continuous struggles immersed in the criminal wars of Miami, and captivating plot twists keep viewer engagement at a consistently high level. Throughout all six episodes, there is never a moment where the thought of watching the series is a waste of time. On the contrary, you are eager to find out what will happen next.
Sofia Vergara has done an astounding job and delivered a powerful performance as the emotionally unstable protagonist who, at some point, loses control. “La Madrina” invokes both horror and respect simultaneously, even from the most despicable characters on screen. The cast, in general, is well-chosen. Almost half of the scenes are played in Spanish (subtitles are provided), and this linguistic authenticity allows for a better immersion in the actors’ performances and the local atmosphere overall.
In one scene, Vergara’s character gives her son a new fish, and as she releases it into the aquarium, she says it’s a jaguar fish that will devour other fish. The same can be said for Griselda herself, who appears in the criminal world of Miami out of nowhere and literally “devours” her competitors. In another scene, the whole family gathers to watch the symbolic “Godfather” by Francis Ford Coppola, and later, the woman names her fourth son after Michael Corleone.
In 2012, when the real Griselda passed away, Westside Gunn, Conway the Machine, and Mach-Hommy named their independent record label in her honor. Not that the character deserves something like that, but the series about this wild lady was definitely not made in vain.
“Griselda” is a great series about bad people that can easily entertain for 2-3 evenings. We also recommend paying attention to the project for viewers who are tired of searching for something truly interesting in the depths of Netflix.