Set and filmed in Colombia, seasons one and two are based on the story of drug kingpin Pablo Escobar, who became a billionaire through the production and distribution of cocaine, while also focusing on Escobar's interactions with drug lords, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents, and various opposition entities. Season three picks up after the fall of Escobar and continues to follow the DEA as they go up against the rise of the infamous Cali Cartel.
Season one, comprising 10 episodes, originally aired on August 28, 2015, as a Netflix exclusive. The series was renewed for a second season, which premiered on September 2, 2016, with 10 episodes. On September 6, 2016, Netflix renewed the series for its third and fourth seasons. The third season premiered on September 1, 2017.
|Theme music composer||Rodrigo Amarante|
|Country of origin||United States
|No. of seasons||3|
|No. of episodes||30 (list of episodes)|
|Running time||43–60 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Gaumont International Television|
Lionsgate Home Entertainment (Home video releases)
|Picture format||1080p, 2160p (16:9 HDTV)|
|Original release||August 28, 2015 – present|
|1||10||August 28, 2015|
|2||10||September 2, 2016|
|3||10||September 1, 2017|
Season one chronicles the life of Pablo Escobar from the late 1970s, when he first began manufacturing cocaine, to July 1992. The show relates the main events that happened in Colombia during this period and Escobar’s relationship to them. It is told through the perspective of Steve Murphy, an American DEA agent working in Colombia. The series depicts how Escobar first became involved in the cocaine trade in Colombia. He was an established black marketeer in Medellín, moving trucks worth of illegal goods (alcohol, cigarettes, and household appliances) into Colombia during a time when this was strictly forbidden, when introduced to Mateo "Cockroach" Moreno, a Chilean exile and underground chemist, who pitched the idea that they go into business together, with Moreno producing and Escobar distributing a new, profitable drug—cocaine. They expand beyond Moreno's small cocaine processing lab by building additional, larger labs in the rainforest and, using the expertise of Carlos Lehder, transport their product in bulk to Miami, where it gains notoriety amongst the rich and famous. Soon enough, Pablo develops larger labs and more extensive distribution routes into the United States to supply growing demand. With cocaine's growth into a drug of importance in the American market, one that accounts for a large flow of U.S. dollars to Colombia and escalating drug-related violence in the United States, the Americans send a task force from the DEA to Colombia to address the issue. Murphy is partnered with Javier Peña. The purpose of Murphy's task force is to work with the Colombian authorities, led by Colonel Carrillo, to put an end to the flow of cocaine into the United States. The season ends with Escobar's escape from prison.
Season two continues where season one ended. Soldiers find Escobar and his entourage right outside the perimeter of La Catedral, but are too petrified by Escobar to make an arrest. At the embassy, the United States sends a new ambassador who brings the CIA into play. In the beginning, little change occurs for Escobar, as he still has the loyalty of his cartel. This loyalty, however, starts to slip as Escobar needs more time and resources to hide from the government. Among the tricks he uses to avoid being seen are riding around town in the trunk of a taxi cab and using young lookouts to report police movements to him.
Initially, Escobar easily adapts to his new life, giving money to the community while ruthlessly killing those who try to break away from his empire. The Colombian police and Escobar engage in massive battles, resulting in high tension and unrest in Colombia. Escobar's rivals in the Cali cartel form an unlikely alliance with ousted members of his own cartel, as well as with a CIA-backed anticommunist paramilitary group. Agent Peña secretly works with this group, who kill members of Pablo's organization and claim responsibility as "Los Pepes". After two of Escobar's top cartel members are caught and betray him, Escobar goes on the run. His bodyguard and he hide in a safehouse, where he celebrates his 44th birthday. When Pablo tries to make contact with his family, the DEA and military track him down via radio triangulation and corner him on the rooftops. Pablo is hit twice in the ensuing shootout, and although he might survive his injuries, a Colombian policeman executes him. Escobar's wife Tata goes to the Cali cartel for their help in leaving the country. Peña returns to the United States and is asked to provide intelligence against the Cali cartel.
Season three was released on September 1, 2017. The story continues after Pablo Escobar's death and shows the DEA's fight against the Cali cartel. With Escobar out of the way, business for the cartel is booming, with new markets in the United States and elsewhere. To everyone's surprise, Gilberto Rodríguez Orejuela, the leader of the Cali cartel, announces that within 6 months, the cartel will leave the cocaine business entirely to focus on legal business interests. The decision is met with mixed reactions within the cartel.
The series was announced in April 2014, through a partnership deal struck between Netflix and Gaumont International Television. The series is primarily written by Chris Brancato and directed by Brazilian filmmaker José Padilha, who directed the critically and commercially successful Elite Squad (2007), before directing its sequel in 2010, which became the highest-grossing film ever in Brazil. On September 15, 2017, one of the shows location scouts Carlos Muñoz Portal was reported as having been found murdered with multiple gunshot wounds in his car on a dirt road in central Mexico near the town of Temascalapa. A spokesman for the attorney general in Mexico state said there were no witnesses due to the remote location and that the authorities will continue to investigate. The possibility of narco gangs being involved is being considered.
Narcos opens with a title card, from which the narrator reads: "Magical realism is defined as what happens when a highly detailed, realistic setting is invaded by something too strange to believe. There is a reason magical realism was born in Colombia".
The theme scores the visual montage comprising the title sequence, created by DK Studios under artistic director Tom O’Neill. The 1980s-themed images address Colombian drug trafficking in general, the United States’ attempt to control it, the era’s glamour, footage from the mountainous regions of Bogota and surrounding underprivileged neighbourhoods, shots of local residents, archival news coverage, and violence. The montage excludes some people who were unwilling to appear in the credits, but it does include some news clips and images "of Pablo Escobar and his entourage, like those at the zoo, [which] came directly from the drug baron’s personal photographer, who goes by the name El Chino." According to O'Neill, "the production team took inspiration from James Mollison’s photo book The Memory of Pablo Escobar."
Narcotics: from late Middle English: from Old French narcotique, via medieval Latin from Greek narkōtikos, from narkoun ‘make numb’. In Spanish, the term narco is an abbreviation of the word narcotraficante (drug trafficker). Before this usage, in the United States, the epithet "narc" (or "narco") referred to a specialist officer of a narcotics police force, such as a DEA agent.
The first season received generally favorable reviews from critics. Rotten Tomatoes, a review aggregator, surveyed 45 reviews and judged 78% to be positive. The site reads, "Narcos lacks sympathetic characters, but pulls in the viewer with solid acting and a story that's fast-paced enough to distract from its familiar outline." On Metacritic, season one holds a weighted average score of 77 out of 100, based on 19 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
IGN gave the first season a 7.8 out of 10 score, saying "It's a true-to-life account, sometimes to a fault, of the rise of Pablo Escobar and the hunt that brought him down laced with stellar performances and tension-filled stand-offs. Its blend of archival footage reminds us that the horrors depicted really happened, but also manage to present an Escobar that is indefensible but frighteningly sympathetic." Writing for The Philadelphia Inquirer, Tirdad Derakhshani reviewed the season positively, calling it, "Intense, enlightening, brilliant, unnerving, and addictive, Narcos is high-concept drama at its finest." Television critic Tim Goodman of The Hollywood Reporter also reviewed the series positively, saying, "The series begins to find its pacing not long after, and we see the strength of Moura’s acting, which to his credit never races, in the early going, toward over-the-top menace or the drug-lord cliches we're all used to at this point. Credit also the fact that Padilha brings a documentary feel to Narcos." Nancy deWolf Smith of The Wall Street Journal wrote, "The omniscient-narrator device works very well for a complex story spanning many years and varied sets of players." Critic Neil Genzlinger of The New York Times said, "It’s built on sharp writing and equally sharp acting, as any good series needs to be." However, chief television critic Mary McNamara of Los Angeles Times wrote, "It's a grand if inconsistent experiment that, from the moment it opens with a definition of magic realism, wears its considerable ambitions on its sleeve." Writing for IndieWire, Liz Shannon Miller said, "An unlikeable character, no matter the circumstances, remains unlikeable, but an unlikeable character trumps a bland blonde man whose position of authority appears to be his only really interesting character trait, no matter how much voice-over he utters."
The show received criticism for the quality of the Spanish spoken. Dr. Alister Ramírez-Márquez, a member of the North American Academy of the Spanish Language, faulted the accents, pronunciation, intonation, and incorrect use of Paisa colloquialisms. Speaking of the show's reception in Colombia, Sibylla Brodzinsky of The Guardian stated, "audiences have been bemused by the stars’ ropey accents, irritated by its portrayal of the country's recent history, and – in some cases – simply bored by yet another narco-drama." The Brazilian accent of Wagner Moura was particularly criticized for being incongruent with Escobar's Paisa background. Gisela Orozco of the Chicago Tribune said the show would not engross Latinos due to the mishmash of accents and contrasted Narcos with Pablo Escobar: El Patrón del Mal. In his review of the show, Colombian TV critic Omar Rincón wrote in El Tiempo, "Narcos is the Miami and US vision of NarColombia – something like Trump’s idea of us: the good guys are the gringos ... and the narcos are comically dysfunctional or primitives with bad taste ... Narcos may do well outside Colombia, but here it produces anger and laughter."
The second season generated better reviews compared with those for the previous season. Rotten Tomatoes gives the second season an approval rating of 91% based on 22 reviews, with an average rating of 7.6/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Narcos' sophomore season manages to elevate the stakes to a gut-wrenching degree in what continues to be a magnificent account of Pablo Escobar's life." On Metacritic, season two holds a score of 76 out of 100, based on 13 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
IGN gave the second season a score of 7.4 out of 10, calling it "Good" and wrote "It may go overboard with its love of Pablo Escobar, but I can't truly fault the show for taking advantage of its best performer and character – or for scrambling to find an emotional core on a show that can feel rather clinical." Joshua Alston of The A.V. Club lauded the performance of Moura's and said, "While the show never soft-pedals the havoc Escobar created, it makes him surprisingly sympathetic, thanks in part to Moura’s shrewd, affecting performance." Critic Neil Genzlinger of The New York Times said, "Mr. Moura is inscrutably brilliant at the center of it all." Entertainment Weekly's Jeff Jensen also reviewed the series positively, saying, "Where season 1 spanned 10 years, season 2 captures Escobar's last days on the loose. Each tightly packed episode moves quickly without sacrificing richness, chronicling the uneasy alliances and gross tactics employed to snare Escobar." Tim Goodman of The Hollywood Reporter said, "What works in the early going of season two is that the fall is almost always more thrilling, if not engaging, than the buildup. Escobar senses the loss of power and Moura does some of his best work as viewers read the worry and interior thinking on his face."
On Rotten Tomatoes, the third season holds an approval rating of 95% based on 22 reviews, with an average rating of 7.46/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Narcos continues to evolve in its third season, drawing on historical details to take viewers on a thoroughly gripping -- and unsettlingly timely -- journey into darkness." On Metacritic, season three holds a weighted average score of 78 out of 100, based on 9 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
|2015||Hollywood Music in Media Awards||Original Score – TV Show/Digital Series||Pedro Bromfman||Nominated||
|2016||Golden Globe Awards||Best Television Series – Drama||Narcos||Nominated||
|Best Actor – Television Series Drama||Wagner Moura||Nominated|
|Writers Guild of America Awards||Best Episodic Drama||Andy Black (Episode: "Explosivos")||Nominated||
|Satellite Awards||Best Drama Series||Narcos||Nominated||
|Guild of Music Supervisors Awards||Best Music Supervision in a Television Drama||Liza Richardson||Won||
|Golden Trailer Awards||Best Trailer/Teaser for a TV Series/Mini-Series||Netflix, Transit (Trailer: "Lines")||Won||
|British Academy Television Awards||British Academy Television Award for Best International Programme||Nominated||
|Imagen Foundation Awards||Best Actor – Television||Wagner Moura||Nominated||
|Best Actor – Television||Pedro Pascal||Nominated|
|Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards||Outstanding Main Title Design||Nominated||
|Outstanding Original Main Title Theme Music||Rodrigo Amarante||Nominated|
|Outstanding Single Camera Picture Editing for a Drama Series||Leo Trombetta (Episode: "Descenso")||Nominated|
|Hollywood Music in Media Awards||Best Main Title – TV Show/Digital Streaming Series||Kyle Dixon, Michael Stein||Nominated||
|Artios Awards||Outstanding Achievement in Casting Television Pilot - Drama||Nominated||
|2017||43rd People's Choice Awards||Favorite Premium Drama Series||Narcos||Nominated||
|Golden Trailer Awards||Best Action (TV Spot / Trailer /Teaser for a Series)||Netflix, Transit (Trailer: "Lines")||Won||
|Golden Reel Awards||TV Short Form – FX/Foley||Nominated||
Hago a Valeria Velez, un personaje distinto basado en la amante de Pablo Escobar, Virginia Vallejo, un personaje importante en Colombia