Lost in the Reel’s Video Review of “Griselda”

Netflix’s Griselda has been on my radar in recent months due to two things… I love a good cartel story, especially this one, revolving around one of Pablo Escobar’s most feared competitors… And the fact that it stars Sofia Vergara, who has mostly stuck to silly, comedic roles in her career, playing completely against type in a villainous role.  And I can say that Griselda does not disappoint in delivering on those two things.  While it’s not perfect by any means, it does chronicle this true story in a compelling, streamlined way… and Sofia Vergara is an absolute knockout.  


Netflix’s Griselda chronicles the real life of savvy and ambitious Colombian business woman, Griselda Blanco, who created one of the most profitable and dangerous cartels in history. A devoted mother, Blanco’s lethal blend of charm and unsuspecting savagery helped her expertly navigate between family and business leading her to become widely known as the Black Widow and the Cocaine Godmother.  


The biggest worry I had, and one that continued throughout the first few episodes of the series, was that the writers would spend too much time trying to make the audience sympathize with Griselda.  This is a downright evil woman, and no matter how much she cared about her children, she was a cold-blooded, ruthless drug lord who senselessly killed to get ahead.  While I think it’s always important to share all sides of a character to really get into their psyche to understand who they really were… the writers of the show do spend a lot of time glamorizing Griselda’s lifestyle and making us try to empathize with her plight.  


While that bothered me a bit, I also have to admit, as a lover of my guilty pleasures, that these were the most captivating episodes of the show.  Seeing Griselda escape from an abusive partner with one bag of cocaine and turn that into a seemingly unstoppable empire of excess and greed, was exhilarating entertainment. I could not get enough of it. 

What doesn’t work as well, is the police procedural subplot following a female officer who is right on Griselda’s tail, yet no one believes her.  A lot of this storyline felt really forced and disingenuous like the writers were trying to push a certain narrative to make more of an impact.  I appreciated seeing the gender dynamics of the 70’s and 80’s, especially within the police force, and the show spotlighting the gratuitous disparity in equality between women and men at the time… but, that whole storyline felt half-baked to me.  

As the show progresses into its last few episodes, is when the audience is really subjected to the pure evil that is Griselda Blanco.  Seeing this cold-blooded woman humiliate, chastise, lie to, threaten, torture, and kill the people around her becomes an unsettling sight to witness.  All of the opulence and glamor of the drug business is finally shown to be what it really is: a thing of true ugliness.  Griselda’s descent into drug-fueled paranoia and madness is no longer entertainment. It’s grueling and hard to stomach.  But, it was necessary to tell this story, and I am so happy the showrunners went there because this feels more complete in showing us all sides to this character.  


None of this would have worked, however, if the leading lady couldn’t have pulled off such a balancing act of deceptive charm mixed with go-getter earnestness and a ruthless power complex.  Sofia Vergara rises to the occasion in every single scene she is given.  It’s not like I didn’t believe she had it in her, and I certainly was rooting for her to succeed in a role like this, but WOW, she really surprised me and blew me away.  Yes, it helps that she is unrecognizable in her prosthetic make-up, but she completely loses herself in this role.  It’s one I feel like she was born to play.  I don’t think the Emmys will forget about her come next year.  


Although it relies on melodrama, ultra-violence, and some vast creative liberties to weave its true tale, Griselda is definitely a must-watch limited series for any lover of true crime stories or any fan of Netflix’s Narcos franchise.  With Sofia Vergara’s showstopping performance leading the way and a refreshing female perspective, it also adds something unique and special to the oversaturated genre.  Is it groundbreaking or unforgettable?  No.  But, at a quick 6 episodes, it’s the perfect binge for a rainy night.  

All 6 Episodes of Griselda are Streaming Now on Netflix.

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