“Griselda” unfolds as a tale of revenge, chronicling the real-life ascent of Griselda Blanco, portrayed with captivating intensity by Sofía Vergara, to the status of The Godmother of the Medellín Cartel. Rather than depicting a victimized figure drawn into the underworld, creator Eric Newman provides a glimpse into the meticulous and intelligent mind of a woman determined to reclaim everything stolen from her, even at the cost of self-destruction. The show, characterized by its swift pace and compelling performances, delivers a brutal, fascinating, and high-drama narrative that commences with a daring escape.
Helmed by the team behind “Narcos,” the limited series commences in late 1970s Medellín, Colombia, as an injured Griselda seeks refuge in her meticulously curated home. The narrative takes a frantic turn as she contacts a friend, Carmen, packs her bags, and relocates with her sons to Miami, leaving behind unresolved matters in Medellín. Arriving in 1978 Miami, Griselda seizes the city’s frenetic energy, showcasing her adeptness at reinvention.
The series introduces Griselda midway through her life, with the audience witnessing her mastery of reinvention. Despite cramped living conditions in Carmen’s house, Griselda, determined to rebuild her life, navigates the challenges of the drug trade, facing misogyny, machoism, violence, and intimidation. Sofía Vergara, also an executive producer, undergoes a remarkable transformation, evolving from a comedic background to portray an increasingly agitated and vicious woman, complete with prosthetics and 1970s fashion.
While compressing three years into six hour-long episodes, “Griselda” maintains impeccable pacing, with no moment or dialogue spared. The series meticulously outlines Griselda’s rise and, by Episode 5, “Paradise Lost,” set in 1981, reveals the transformation of the once-savior into a crack-cocaine-fueled, Scarface-like monster in a lavish castle. The narrative delves into the consequences of power and greed on the human spirit, portrayed through a chaotic and unsettling episode reminiscent of telenovela tropes.
The stellar cast, including Vergara, shines in capturing the essence of ambition and retaliation. Particularly noteworthy is Martín Rodríguez’s portrayal of Jorge “Rivi” Ayala-Rivera, a top-hitter in Miami, offering a mesmerizing depiction of a criminal mastermind. Despite minor missteps, such as a potentially on-the-nose hand-motion gesture by Griselda and an odd slow-motion scene, “Griselda” excels in portraying a woman who transforms from prey to predator. While not aspirational, the series explores the complexities of taking control of one’s narrative, acknowledging the survival instincts and ego-driven actions that shape human behavior.