The Dose: Netflix original ‘Narcos’ like a drug itself

The Dose: Netflix original ‘Narcos’ like a drug itself

The Dose: Netflix original ‘Narcos’ like a drug itself
September 26
13:22 2015

Harrison Long | Editorial Writer

Through 10 episodes of this specially-crafted, highly-stylized series chronicling the rise of drug lord Pablo Escobar, it has become readily apparent why many traditional cable companies, along with the customary system that is Hollywood, view Netflix as a threat. The company is astutely in tune with its viewer’s desires in regards to new content, creates extremely well-written material and stands alone as the only streaming service which will debut an entire season of a self-produced program in a single day. In short, Netflix is on fire.

Beginning in the late 1970s, ‘Narcos’ has two main narratives which drive the entirety of the season. The narrator is Steve Murphy, a real-life DEA agent who pursued Pablo Escobar for over a decade in attempt to dethrone him as the undisputed “King of Cocaine,” all the while dodging death himself at every turn.

We follow Murphy’s transition from the hippie-busting hot-shot in Miami prior to the boom of cocaine in the early 1980’s, to deep within the jungles of Colombia as the country descended into madness just a few years later. Initially an average, easy-going and idealistic young man, we witness Murphy combat a swath of different internal conflicts, trying to not become a monster himself as he spends his life in pursuit of one of the world’s most notorious criminals.

‘Narcos’ is as much a show about self-examination in the realization of goals, and the futility that sometimes arises when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object–namely the soulless deviant Pablo Escobar doing combat with incorruptible, yet hopelessly overwhelmed, Steve Murphy.

Directly opposing the story of Murphy is the other narrative which follows alongside Pablo Escobar himself, also from the late 1970s well into the Clinton administration, entirely in Spanish. While some viewers may find the constant need to read subtitles to be daunting or even obnoxious, it could be argued that the Spanish language element only adds to the show’s realism and showcases Netflix’s commitment to create innovative, engaging stories.

We watch Escobar rise from small-time, overly-clever young man to the largest distributor of cocaine in the world, as well as one of the richest criminals in history, in a matter of episodes. We witness first hand as he combats politicians, potential mutiny within his ranks, and of course, the hot-on-the-trail Steve Murphy, not for a moment failing in its ability to maintain complete engagement from the viewer.

Exceedingly violent and at times frighteningly intense, viewers should consider the subject matter before beginning the series. The 1980’s was an extremely chaotic time for the country of Colombia, and the particularly hardboiled nature of Murphy’s work against the Narcos, as well as the length Pablo Escobar is willing to go in order to continue his enterprises is on full display. This is not a show for the faint of heart.

To conclude, ‘Narcos’ is altogether a spectacular vision for the future of television and a direct response to viewer discontent with content from major cable networks. The best news for viewers and new fans of this epic tale is that, like its predecessor, when the second season is finished, it will be available in its entirety on the site. For those who have yet to see the Netflix original, be warned: you’ll be hooked after the first time.

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