Striking narration, well-paced and exquisitely shot, Sofía Vergara’s Griselda stays true to the genre of crime drama.
The limited series, Griselda, on Netflix is a fictional dramatization of the life of Griselda Blanco, a woman drug lord in Miami during the 1970s and 80s.
Sofía Vergara stars in the titular character, portraying the life of Griselda, as she st arts from scratch, builds her empire and then struggles to stay on top before everything comes crashing down. This could have been just another run-of-the mill story about an underdog making it big in life. But what adds gravitas to the narrative is that this is a woman, also a mother to three children, taking on the drug cartel (a man’s world, of course, until then) and emerging victorious. And yes, this woman existed for real.
Based on the real-life story of drug lord Griselda Blanco, the Netflix miniseries is created by Doug Miro, Eric Newman, Carlo Bernard, Ingrid Escajeda and directed by Andrés Baiz.
The series hits the ground running as the opening shots show a wounded Griselda, fleeing Medellín in Colombia, with her three sons. The first episode, Lady Comes to Town, sets the stage for Griselda as she struggles to set up a business in the big, bad underworld of drug trafficking, suffers a painful setback, but quickly learns the tricks of the trade.
The 6-episdoe series, each with a duration of around 50 minutes, can be broadly divided into three stages of Griselda’s life with the first two episodes narrating her coming up with ingenious ideas for setting up trade, the third and fourth episodes see much bloodshed as she marks her territory and the final 2 chronicle the downfall.
The makers are clear about how they want to narrate this explosive tale, and they execute it in style. The pictures on the internet show Griselda Blanco as a not-so-attractive woman who has weight issues, but on screen we get a slim and attractive Griselda, always dressed in shimmery clothes but with a killer attitude. As one of the characters in the series says, Griselda does not look like she is someone’s girlfriend but as a boss!
Hats off to the casting director who chose to put Sofía Vergara in Griselda’s shoes. She pulls off Griselda with an eclectic style, bringing suave to her actions and adding punch to her dialogues. But we get to see the vulnerable side of Griselda as well, always looking out for her children and quivering from inside when one of her trusted aides is killed right in front of her.
The stunning transformation of Sofía Vergara from the much-loved Gloria Pritchett of the popular sitcom Modern Family to the gun-wielding Griselda Blanco is the highlight of the show. Anyone randomly coming across the series, without checking the credits first, should be pardoned for not identifying Sofia. A shoutout for the make-up team of the limited series for this incredible makeover. And not just in looks, Sofia should be lauded for leaving behind any traces of the comedy actress and bringing to life the chain-smoking, gun-wielding Griselda.
Another noteworthy character is cop June Hawkins, played by Juliana Aidén Martinez, who is hell-bent on bringing down Griselda. Alberto Guerra as Darío, her bodyguard-turned-husband, and Rivi Ayala-Rivera as her trusted hitman, who appears in the later episodes, do justice to their roles.
But a probable grievance about the series could be that the makers have gone all out in portraying the ‘Godmother' of Miami's drug empire. As cop Hawkins says, ‘we are so impressed by a woman pulling this off, we have all turned her into a genius criminal’. This seems to be true in the case of makers too, who while glorifying Griselda’s story, seem to have overlooked the fact that, in the end, she was just a drug lord who was also behind many murders.
Striking narration, well-paced and exquisitely shot, Griselda stays true to the genre of crime drama. Powered by the brilliant performance of Sofía Vergara, Griselda is a compelling watch.