From the very beginning, drug cartels would stake their claim to various parts of the United States. If anyone encroached on their territory, all-out war followed until there was a pile of bodies stacked on a street corner. One of the hotbeds in the 1980s for smuggling drugs, specifically cocaine, into America, was Miami, Florida and with various cartels jockeying for power, murders were happening every week.
Amongst all of the powerful men looking to control the drug trade at that time, one stood out as cunning, ruthless, intelligent, etc., and eventually became the biggest drug supplier in the South. Surprisingly, this individual wasn't a man but the notorious Griselda Blanco (Sofia Vergara; Modern Family), whom many referred to as The Godmother. Premiering on Netflix, the six-part limited series, aptly titled Griselda, offers a glimpse inside her world.
After shooting her husband, Griselda packed a bag, grabbed her three sons and a kilo of cocaine, and flew to her friend in Miami. Determined to start over and leave that world behind, Griselda worked in her friend's travel agency but also tried to find a buyer for her kilo so she and her sons could buy a house. However, finding that none of the men in the underground drug world would take her seriously, Griselda became determined to, not only prove them all wrong but to, take them down as she built her drug empire.
Sofia Vergara started this journey seven years ago when she approached the writers of the Netflix series, NARCOS with the idea to tell Griselda Blanca's story. While Griselda had been profiled before, most famously in the documentary, Cocaine Cowboys, there had never been a comprehensive in-depth look into the woman and the world she created. However, what Vergara also brought to the story was an intensity and a depth of emotion that we haven't seen from her before. She infuses Griselda with almost maniacal highs, chilling, heartless, moments, and a vulnerability that comes with being a woman and a parent.
Her supporting cast is excellent as well. From the younger individuals who portray Griselda's sons, Uber (Jose Velazquez; The Wilds), Dixon (Orlando Pineda; The Infiltrators), and Ozzy (Martín Fajado; Now and Then) to the veteran actors who play her husband Dario (Alberto Guerra; El Señor de los Cielos), to her most trusted advisor, Arturo (Christian Tappan; Primate) and the cop trying to catch her, June (Juliana Aidén Martinez; The Blacklist), everyone blends well together.
Director Andrés Baiz (The Hidden Face) keeps the pace moving along, even in moments of solitude such as when Griselda is sitting by herself, contemplative tracing an outline with the tip of her cigarette. He doesn't shy away from the gore or blood and makes the violence seem natural, whether pre-planned or a necessity of the moment. He also deliberately chose the musical composer, Carlos Rafael Rivera (The Queen's Gambit), and collaborated with Rivera on the sound and instruments used.
This is not the only portrayal of Griselda Blanco, but it is one of the best ones there is. It shows the Godmother at her worst, taking no prisoners and showing her enemies what she is capable of while, at her softer moments, reminding everyone that she is a mother and feels the pain when her children or those she loves are hurt.
As with so many Netflix endeavors, the production value is top-notch. From the set designs to the costumes, no details are left out and nothing is overlooked. While other productions have shown us the unfeeling businesswoman Griselda, this limited series gives audiences so much more.