Narcos Season 1 Review

Posted by in TV Review

Narcos is a Netflix original series that focuses on the real-life hunt for Pablo Escobar, the king of the Coloumbian cocaine drug empire in the 1970s to 1990s. In a time of the golden age of TV, from the biggest and best streaming company, does it stand-up to the other high profile shows and is it worth watching? Find out in this review for Netflix’s Narcos Season 1.

Creators: Carlo Bernard, Chris Brancato, Doug Miro and Paul Eckstein
Stars: Wagner Moura (Pablo Escobar), Boyd Holbrook (Steve Murphy), Pedro Pascal (Javier Peña)

Fiction vs Reality

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Pablo Escobar in Netflix’s Narcos

Most of the golden age TV that everyone talks about are completly fictional, for example Breaking Bad, Daredevil etc. Narcos takes another direction and closely follows true life events. Events that are shocking as-well as still relevant and interesting to this day. This should have lead to a much more interesting programme than what is actually presented. Instead, it results in a show with a lack of direction and focus, with scenes that rely on rather terrible narration to tie them together. This does improve slightly later in the season, but it leaves the viewer with a reduced feeling of involvement in the events unfolding as they are told what is happening rather than really seeing it for themselves. Real-life footage is included to try and make-up for this, but only seemed to show that it would be perhaps much more interesting to look at the true story through articles and documentaries.

Direction, Cinematography and Characters

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Javier Peña and Steve Murphey in Netflix’s Narcos

For the most part, the direction and cinematography in Narcos is okay. There are some stand out moments that really seem to ‘pop’ on-screen, but for the most part they are nothing special, with shots mostly dull and flat, within scenes that don’t ever become particuarly tense or impactful. The way the characters are written and directed are rather poor too, as it seems like the actors could have given much better performances if only they were given a bit more breathing space. As it is they all seem rather undeveloped, with most parts never seemingly getting a nice overall arch. For example, Juan, Escobar’s son, has practially nothing to do or say within his very small amount of screentime. It is only towards the end that the writers try to make it seem eventful that he wants to follow in his father’s footsteps and harbours hateful feelings. However, it doesn’t really matter to the audience as they have never had time to get to know this character whatsoever, and so the programme continues without really making true discussion on Juan’s feelings and motivation.
This doesn’t just happen to the smaller roles though. The DEA agents Murphey and Peña get the same sort of treatment in that we never really understand why they are doing what they are doing. Never truely get inside their heads like a good TV show can do. They just get whisked up in the plot with everyone else.


Narcos season 1 is, overall, a programme that goes along at too quick a pace for viewers to truely get invested. Perhaps Netflix bit off more than they could chew with such massive real life events. This isn’t to say you can’t sit down and enjoy the show for what it is, but in such a great age for television this doesn’t really cut it anymore. Those looking for another great show won’t find it here, and those interested in the real life topic would be better off looking for a good documentary or book.