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ESCOBAR, THE LORD OF EVIL Rules Colombia
Interesting news from way down south: a TV bio series about Pablo Escobar, former kingpin of the Medellín drug cartel, has been racking up serious ratings in Escobar’s home country of Colombia. The drug rackets have been a staple of crime fiction and fact since time out of mind, but what’s of more interest here is a) if this show is pulling down those kinds of numbers in South America, there’s a good chance we’ll soon see a North American version and b) the show is produced by the families of some of Escobar’s victims.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, when Escobar, the Lord of Evil premiered this past May, it pulled down an almost 71% share of the Colombian viewing public. I can’t imagine that Hollywood has especially got a bead on the viewing patterns of the Colombian peoples, but I also can’t imagine some enterprising young producer up here in El Norte seeing those numbers and not see a way to cash in on this. After all, there was talk of adapting an English-language version of the telenovela La Reina del Sur (“The Queen of the South”), another drug cartel-related story which often eclipsed American broadcasts in ratings in some parts of this country. Clearly, there is a market in the States for the high melodrama which is seemingly inherent in Latin American television, and even Ugly Betty was based on the Colombian show, Yo soy Betty, la fea.
Escobar producers Juana Uribe and Camilo Cano would likely be interested in having their particular take on the Escobar story more widespread. Uribe’s mother was kidnapped by Escobar’s thugs, apparently related to the assassination of her uncle in ’89. And Cano’s father was a journalist who exposed Escobar for the kingpin he was back in the early ’80s, effectively quashing Escobar’s political ambitions in Colombian Congress, and getting himself killed for the effort. Obviously, I have yet to see Escobar, but I would imagine the show makes less of a hero of the man (who enjoyed great success in the cocaine business until finally being killed by government forces in 1993) than American crime fiction has done with its criminal inspirations. Personally, I have few moral compunctions about right or wrong in my literature (including TV), but as a reader/viewer, I’d find it intriguing at the very least to watch a show about a rat-bastard of a criminal kingpin told from the perspective of his victims rather than from those who idolize him. Everybody loves Scarface, but I seriously doubt that many people would really wanna hang out with Tony Montana.
So get on that, American TV. Throw us a little challenge, peppered with some saucy Latin women, and I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. We here at the Complex will be keeping a close eye on this story if/when it has any developments.