If you want web-series that you can spend all day reading about on the Internet, then Narcos: Mexico was made for you. Masterfully created, intertwining actual events with fictional creativity, the show will leave you addictively wanting more. That is exactly what the trafficker of this gem (aka Netflix) wants.
Narcos: Mexico, is the fourth season of the Netflix’s Original Series initially titled just Narcos. The first three seasons of the series chronicles the life of Columbian drug lord Pablo Escobar and the origins of the Cali Cartel. The most recent installment of the series thus explores the origins of modern drug wars by taking the viewer back to where it all started in Sinaloa, Mexico and journeying with the originator of the Guadalajara Drug Cartel.
The series follows two sides of the drug war. On one hand it tracks the life of Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo, a one-time Mexican police officer that partners with Rafael (Rafa) Caro Quintero. Rafa creates a new strain of marijuana as Felix seeks the protection of corrupt law enforcement officials in Guadalajara. Once that protection is given, Rafa goes on to successfully grow the largest crop of marijuana ever in history in the middle of the desert with the forced help of a university geologist.
Simultaneously, the series also chronicles the life of DEA agent Kiki Camarena ( Michael Peña) who moves his growing family to Guadalajara and is later kidnapped by the cartel for his pioneering investigative work. The kidnapping then sets off a series of events that escalate quickly. This escalation allows the narrative to be told which details how the United States was ultimately forced into public engagement of drug trafficking.
The series is everything that one wouldn’t want their kids to see: violence, illegal drug use, and adult situations. In spite of all of this though, Narcos: Mexico is deeply compelling and worth the watch for adult audiences. The character development is so excellent that it makes the viewer want to root for the bad guys right up to the point when they do something horrific. Then, just when you think that you’re done with liking these criminals - that you are finally out for good, the director pulls you right back in. This makes for great television because it depicts how and why so many people would be willing to follow these charismatic individuals.
Moreover, Narcos: Mexico is a great example of the slippery-slope argument in action. Felix starts with the BHAG of uniting all of the plazas in Mexico to start the cartel, but he never is satisfied no matter how much money he makes. His raw ambition is his undoing and his success. All of this chaos helps Narcos: Mexico to creatively intertwine with the first three seasons of the series as well.
Beyond all this though, the series is poetically constructed and artfully filmed. The directors know when to slow down and speed up for impact. The operatic nature of the series at times feels like it comes right from a musical score. If you like Godfather-esque movies – you will love Narcos: Mexico.
Finally – it is important to remember that Narcos: Mexico isn’t straight fiction. It’s based on real people, in real situations with real events that impact the world right up to the present day. Corruption, greed, and bureaucratic sloth are exposed, ultimately demonstrating how the self-sacrifice of one person (Camarena) can inspire good in the world. So if the viewer has interest, there are backstories and Internet accounts of all of the players in the show that one can get lost in.
Interestingly, these realities surrounding the show force the viewer to question just how modern media is presently manipulating them. We may want to root for the bad guy at times in Narcos: Mexico – but in the end – these stories that have been turned into profit-making machines for Netflix - are manipulating our emotions. As such, the immorality of the Guadalajara Cartel may continue to live on even to this day in its glorification while the viewer is left to discern what sacrifices they are really willing to make in their own lives to promote justice in the world.
Reality Changing Observations:
Q1. When TV shows demonstrate the humanity of violent criminals, what emotions does that evoke in you and why?
Q2. What is your comprehensive stance on the legalization of drugs and why?
Q3. Why do you think personal self-sacrifice inspires people to unify together for the greater good?