If you’re an avid TV watcher, Netflix’s “Griselda” is a safe bet. The limited series, brought to you by Eric Newman and Andrés Baiz of “Narcos,” features Sofia Vergara in the role of real-life drug lord Griselda Blanco. While rooted in a true story, the series follows predictable beats, leaving it as one of those rare shows that could have benefited from a couple of extra episodes to avoid an abrupt ending.
Baiz takes the directorial reins, with Vergara also on the executive production team, joined by co-creators Doug Miro, Ingrid Escajeda, and Carlo Bernard (Escajeda and Miro serving as showrunners). To draw parallels with “Narcos” or perhaps attract its audience, “Griselda” kicks off with a quote from none other than Pablo Escobar himself: “The only man I ever feared was a woman named Griselda Blanco.” The quote unfolds in three parts, setting a tone for suspense that unfolds as anticipated. Your enjoyment of “Griselda” hinges on your appreciation for predicting narrative twists and watching them unfold, even if Newman’s team executes them effectively.
While the on-screen Griselda instills fear with her confidence, it’s Vergara’s journey to the top that stands out. Despite the familiar rise and fall of a cocaine-centric girl boss, Vergara hones in on Blanco’s humanity, particularly in her role as a protective mother. Hollywood’s familiarity with this approach to character development, often involving creative liberties, is apparent. Vergara’s portrayal of Blanco is both tough and determined, yet visibly vulnerable and tentative about her own capacity for violence and discipline. The transition from protective mother to ruthless kingpin occurs off-screen, posing a challenge for the audience to reconcile these contrasting facets. Whether fact or fiction, Vergara’s performance showcases her underutilized talent and the significant impact she can make with the right production power and a team that recognizes and maximizes her potential.
With a six-episode runtime, “Griselda” is a binge-worthy delight for the average Netflix viewer, assuming one is desensitized to bloodshed and not craving shocking twists. While it may not bring groundbreaking revelations (yes, women can be murderers and drug bosses too), it’s the kind of show that could have captivated the prestige TV landscape 10-20 years ago, remaining perfectly watchable today in different ways. The entire cast, including Christian Tappan, Freddy Yate, Vanessa Ferlito, and more, holds their own. Alberto Guerra’s portrayal of Dario stands out, serving as a focal point as the fragile trust and secrecy around Griselda begin to crumble. Juliana Aidén Martinez’s introduction as a law enforcement officer in Episode 2 adds intrigue, though it’s a missed opportunity not to explore more scenes between Griselda and her pursuer, capitalizing on compelling chemistry.
After six hours of collecting your winnings and asserting control over the living room, “Griselda” boils down to its connections with “Narcos,” a legal battle involving a man named Michael Corleone, and Sofia Vergara herself. It may not be groundbreaking, but it leaves a respectable legacy, inevitable as it was.