In the world of Narcos there’s no good guys; there are just bad guys and very bad guys.
“The show paints an appropriately complex picture of an enterprise that’s not as simple as bad drug traffickers and good police,” explained executive producer Eric Newman at an interview that took place during a two-day Netflix event at Singapore last week.
He was there with actors Diego Luna and Michael Pena to talk about Narcos: Mexico, which is a new chapter in the Narcos series.
The first three seasons of Narcos looked at the criminal activities in Colombia, specifically the drug trafficking ring run by Colombian drug kingpins like Pablo Escobar.
For its new season – rebooted as Narcos: Mexico – the story moves to Mexico in the 1980s when the city Guadalajara is about to become the base of operations for most of the major narcotics traffickers in North America.
At the centre of the tale are two men, the ambitious Miguel Felix Gallardo (Luna) – who would become one of the heads of the Guadalajara cartel – as well as an agent with the United States’ Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Enrique “Kiki” Camarena (Pena) who’s posted to Guadalajara and witnesses the foundation of a drug enterprise taking shape.
As Kiki gathers intelligence on Felix, a tragic chain of events unfolds, one that affects the drug trade and the war against it till today.
Newman stated: “We very fairly depict the relationship of law enforcement and government (within this enterprise) because it’s incredibly implicit – the drug traffickers would not exist if not for corrupt politicians and law enforcement and of course the endless demand for cocaine that comes out of America, and also from all over the world.”
While Narcos is a drama, the key points in all of the chapters are based on real events.
To ensure the authenticity is intact on the show, the production team goes to where it happened.
All previous seasons were filmed in Colombia. Likewise, the cast and crew of Narcos: Mexico went to Mexico to film its 10 episodes, which features dialogues in both English and Spanish.
Pena, last seen in Ant-Man And The Wasp, pointed out: “The location becomes like another character in the show.”
Continued Newman: “It changed our process to actually be where it happened. Unlike Colombia, where we have reached the end of the violent chapter of the drug war, Mexico is still in the throes of it.”
Luna couldn’t agree more. The international star who was born in Mexico City said: “I still live in the country and the violence is ridiculous.
“To fix the problem, the conversation needs to be open; the way we look at the issue has got to be different because the (drug) market keeps growing … The show has a potential to be part of the solution.
“I hope people will get curious to dig a little deeper into this issue … it takes a lot for change to happen.”
Narcos was a global hit when it came out in 2015, and was nominated for multiple awards.
It is a kind of a show that would be easy to dismiss as it does humanise people who don’t deserve to be humanised.
“But at the same time Narcos presents a different point of view, and it forces viewers to not just slap the stereotype of a drug dealer to a character and realise there is a lot in play.
Newman expanded: “There is an evolution to the history of drugs, and it starts at one place and spreads, and goes all over the world. There is an invisible empire that connects all of us, every country – as long as there is a demand, there is a supply.”
This is also why, he said, Narcos could change its cast, characters as well as locations, and still continue.
“The show has always been designed not to be of one person or one place, but to be a story of this invisible empire and how they’re connected – the traffickers in Asia are doing business with traffickers in Colombia, many of whom we’ve featured on our show.
“It is an extended universe that coexists throughout time and it connects to governments, banks, and law enforcements, and even some cultural movements. They’re all fuelled by, if not the cocaine itself, then, the money that the cocaine generates.
“The idea of this show from the very beginning was to illustrate that world. So no matter where we go, whether we go into Asia, we go to US, Europe, Africa it looks very similar.
“There is always a Pablo Escobar, Felix Gallardo and there is always a Kiki Camarena.”
Narcos: Mexico is now available on Netflix.