The 'Modern Family' alum plays real-life Godmother of Cocaine, Griselda Blanco, in the new Netflix series
Now, in the Netflix limited series Griselda, she plays notorious drug lord Griselda Blanco — a role that puts her front and center in a major dramatic vehicle. There's no ensemble here, just Vergara and a disposable bunch of minions and victims. She’s terrific.
Griselda is co-created by Eric Newman, an executive producer on Netflix’s Narcos and Narcos: Mexico, but don’t expect the grim grittiness of those shows, or anything like Wagner Moura’s baggy-eyed, paunchy Pablo Escobar.
Vergara wears a prosthetic nose that gives her a vaguely leonine look, but she doesn’t resemble the real Griselda, who built up and ran a Miami-based cartel in the 1970s and 1980s and was killed in her native Colombia in 2012. (Judging from photographs, the real Griselda had a tough, vivid garishness that might have served her well as the heroine of a John Waters movie.)
Vergara’s performance is an irresistible star turn that never sacrifices an almost- retro sense of glamour, no matter how many hit jobs Griselda orders. Using a cigarette as an elegant prop, Vergara could be in an old black-and-white Hollywood production. You can imagine her standing on a balcony, half listening to a cocktail being shaken in the room behind her while a band plays a rumba below.
Blanco’s life ended miserably — prison, most of her children dead, assassination — but her fate here feels more like Carey Mulligan’s as Mrs. Leonard Bernstein in Maestro: Such is a woman’s heartache in this world run by men!
Griselda is essentially a romantic fantasy with cocaine and corpses — Scarface without the scars.
Of the supporting players, Alberto Guerra, as a hitman who becomes Griselda's husband, and Martín Rodríguez, as one of her henchman, come closest to making some sort of dramatic impression, but they have a way of sidling out of view and vanishing into the shadows, like well-trained butlers. Everyone here serves to showcase Vergara.
And why not? Her sexual physicality is magnetic and seductive — and unflagging across six episodes.
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Griselda is now streaming on Netflix.
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