Brow Beat

Netflix’s Narcos Might Be Our First TV Show to Accurately Represent the Latin American Drug War

Wagner Moura in   Narcos.

Still taken from the video.

Just days after the world’s most powerful drug lord’s legendary escape, Netflix released the trailer for its new 10-episode original series Narcos, which will detail the rise of the original all-powerful drug lord, Pablo Escobar.

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There’s been a surge of interest in Escobar from Hollywood and television recently, even though it’s been more than 20 years since his death. Last year, there was one Pablo Escobar film starring Benicio del Toro and another will be released in 2016 starring John Leguizamo,* while this year’s Netflix’s serialized version features Game of Thrones’ Pedro Pascal as DEA agent Javier Peña and Wagner Moura as Escobar.

Moura got the look, the mustache, the curls, basically right, minus a few pounds. But since he’s a native Brazilian, his inevitably awkward imitation of a Colombian accent is glaring for a native Colombian. Moura in some way does attempt to capture the cadence of the Paisa accent from the region Escobar was from, a gesture that will go a long way with Latino audiences. At least the series was actually shot in Colombia, which, for Hollywood, is already a huge step toward more faithful depictions of Latin America. (Mr. and Mrs. Smith, for example, was shot mostly in California, and shows a hot and humid, palm-tree lined Bogotá, when even a cursory Wikipedia search will show you that Bogotá is a cold, dry, and grimy city of 10 million, a mile and a half up in the Andes.)

Narcos doesn’t seem to avoid stereotypes entirely—the promotional art literally portrays Latin America as a huge pile of cocaine. But hopefully it takes advantage of these same stereotypes to delve deeper into where they came from.

*Correction, July 17, 2015: This post originally misstated that the film starring John Leguizamo was released last year. It was not, it will be released in 2016. 

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