Griselda: The Rise of a Money Empire Miniseries

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Dive into the world of crime drama with “Griselda,” the latest addition to Netflix’s cache of narcotic narrative hits. As the tale of the notorious Griselda Blanco—also known as ‘The Godmother’ or ‘The Black Widow’—unfolds, viewers are transported back to the gritty ambiance once established by the immensely popular series “Narcos.” While “Narcos” captivated audiences with two riveting seasons featuring Pablo Escobar, followed by three seasons set in Mexico, “Griselda” seeks to capture that same allure, although with a slightly different approach that veers more towards dramatic interpretation than strict docudrama.

Griselda Blanco’s life story is nothing short of captivating. Her journey from an abused child to a self-made woman leading cocaine trafficking in Miami is the focal point of the series. However, the pacing of the series might leave viewers with mixed feelings. The initial episodes spend considerable time detailing her challenging upbringing, yet they only partially succeed in crafting a fully rounded characterization or establishing a strong emotional connection with the audience. Conversely, her ascent to becoming a drug lord feels rushed in the series, appearing to transpire within days rather than the years it actually took.

Sophía Vergara, who not only acts as ‘The Godmother’ but also serves as an executive producer, steps into the shoes of Griselda with zest. However, her performance encounters a slight hiccup; the makeup design fails to accurately capture Blanco’s likeness. The overly prominent prosthetic nose becomes a distraction, drawing attention away from her portrayal. Furthermore, Vergara’s Griselda doesn’t always carry the menacing presence expected of such a feared figure. This is particularly noticeable in a scene where she confronts the mother of a slain hitman, and somehow, the grieving mother projects a more intimidating aura than the drug lord herself.

The first couple of episodes may come across as lackluster, but once the narrative engine revs up, the series transforms into a tumultuous ride of violence. Only a handful of cast members seem to keep stride with Vergara’s portrayal. Notably, Alberto Guerra as Darío Sepúlveda, Christian Tappan as Arthur, and Martin Rodriguez as Rivi Ayala stand out, while the rest of the ensemble, including the on-screen drug traffickers, tends to veer into caricature territory.

One could argue that “Griselda” inadvertently perpetuates the stereotype that Hispanics are often linked to crime. Nearly all the Hispanic characters are portrayed as traffickers, murderers, or prostitutes. The show includes two Latino police officers, but their roles fall short of counterbalancing the overarching theme of criminal behavior.

“Griselda” is a six-episode miniseries exclusively available on Netflix, and despite its slow start, it holds the promise of a storyline that escalates in intensity. Though it may not emulate the high calibre of “Narcos,” it operates within a similar aesthetic and thematic framework. As for Sofía Vergara, her role as Griselda marks a departure from her typical performances, but her efforts are somewhat marred by less-than-stellar makeup. If you manage to push through the initial setup, “Griselda” might just draw you into its frenzied, violent world. Whether “Griselda” is worth the watch is ultimately up to the viewer, but for those who appreciate a story steeped in crime drama, it’s certainly a series to consider.

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