It would have been easy to start episode 1 with an amount of skepticism with ‘Gloria‘ from Modern Family in the lead role as a murderous drug lord. But Sofía Vergara is utterly engrossing as the The Godmother of the Medellín Cartel. Vergara has long proven her comedic chops, 11 seasons worth and a superb performance in a dramatic role like this will undoubtedly set her up for the next phase of her career.
With the makers of Narcos at the helm, there’s probably no better team to tell Griselda Blanco’s story. Griselda Blanco was known by a multitude of nicknames including the ‘Queen of Cocaine,’ ‘The Black Widow,’ & ‘The Boss’ she was a notorious Colombian drug lord who played a significant role in the drug trade during the late 20th century. Born on February 15, 1943, Blanco rose to prominence as a key figure in the Medellín Cartel, one of the most powerful drug cartels in history. She gained notoriety for her ruthlessness and involvement in drug trafficking, particularly in the United States.
Griselda opens with a quote from the show creators former subject Pablo Escobar “The only man I was ever afraid of was a woman named Griselda Blanco.” Setting the tone for what’s to come and you’ll see Escobar knew what he was talking about.
The series opens in the late 1970s in Medellín, Columbia, Griselda is panicked, packing her things whilst making a frantic phone call. She ushers out her three sons, informs them she’s divorcing their stepfather and they’re out the door, suitcases in hand. She brings a kilo of cocaine to sell, as she looks to make a fresh start in Miami.
We’re dropped into a point in her life where she’s already been through an incredible amount. It’s obvious there’s much more to her story before we meet her, such as an abusive marriage and she’s regularly reminded of her life as a former prostitute.
Now arrived in Miami Griselda and her three boys stay with her friend Carman and it’s here where she meets a crossroads. Carmen is willing to help her get a job so they can have a ‘normal’ life away from the drug trade but instead Griselda immediately gets to work selling the kilo of cocaine that she smuggled into the country.
The series chronicles how she pushes her way through the male dominated Miami drug trade. And there’s many scenes in which she’s surrounded by men, the men who own and operate the Miami territories. These men treat her with the utmost contempt, they find her irritating and out of her depth. They use her for her connections and then intimidate her with violence.
Undeterred she slowly builds a group of people around her that include Arturo (Christian Tappan) a former associate of her husband and Dario (Alberto Guerra) her bodyguard and a more than willing gunman. With people by her side she violently gets a grip on Miami’s drug trade.
Griselda is all about Sofía Vergara’s performance it’s undoubtedly the best of her career and crucial to all six episodes. She’s magnetic and her performance holds everything together. The supporting cast is good but there isn’t a performance that outshines Vergara. And the best of those comes from Martín Rodríguez’s turn as Jorge “Rivi” Ayala-Rivera.
Griselda is a solid limited series that fans of Narcos will enjoy, it isn’t as strong as the acclaimed first two seasons that covered Pablo Escobar’s life but the ‘Queen of Cocaine‘ Griselda Blanco’s story is fascinating and very watchable.