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What to watch: All the greatest shows about cartels in Mexico

Drug cartels in Mexico have been the inspiration behind a lot of TV shows. Here are all the greatest shows about cartels in Mexico.

What to watch: All the greatest shows about cartels in Mexico

Drug cartels in Mexico have been the inspiration behind a lot of TV shows. Considering the thrill, chase, and drama involved in the underworld, it’s not surprising that stories about these drug cartels make for a great script.

There’s something very gritty & reckless in the way drug lords, the kingpins and their enforcers operate. Their actions swing between being completely rash & being extremely thorough.

Narcos

Narcos started off as the story of drug lord Pablo Escobar. During his heydays, he founded & led the Medellín drug cartel & dominated the cocaine trade. Narcos brings the magnifying glass over the grisly crimes & violence such kingpins perpetuate.

It’s a very no-holds-barred depiction of the rise of the cocaine trade, and by extension, the drug lords. At the same time, Narcos looks at the progress made by law enforcement to bring down these miscreants. A war on drugs is never not dirty.

Queen of the South

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. Queen of the South is an embodiment of this sentiment. Queen of the South’s based on the bestselling book La Reina del Sur by Arturo Pérez-Reverte & chronicles the journey of Teresa Mendoza whose dealer boyfriend is murdered.

In the initial seasons of Queen of the South, Teresa takes time warming up to the grisly reality that engulfs her & it is only by the end of the third season that she launches into the metaphorical battlefield. She’s fuelled by pure rage & a thirst for revenge.

With her eye on the prize – becoming the queen of the South – Teresa’s a force to reckon with. Nobody can stop her. Nobody can stop us from watching her either. We are eagerly waiting for the fifth season of Queen of the South to take us out from the void that the cliffhanger left us in.

El Chema

If you’re keen on a story that shows how an underage boy steps foot into organized crime (spoiler alert: he does so by transporting marijuana across the US-Mexican border) & grew into one of the most infamous cartel leaders, El Chema is the right pick for you!

Everything you’d expect in a classic drug lord portrayal – from wily seduction to murders & deceit – finds place in El Chema. All its 84 episodes are grouped as one (and only) season, so sit tight for a wild ride all through your binge-watch session.

Ozark

If you want to watch something a tad bit less grisly than these crime dramas, then Ozark’s a good pick. Ozark follows the story of a financial planner whose family – wife & two kids – are oblivious to the deep, deep financial trouble he’s in. To make matters worse, his gigantic debt is owed to a Mexican drug lord.

The plot’s very complex and gripping, so Ozark makes it to this list. For a seasoned viewer of drug cartel tales, the execution might seem a little jaded, though. Overall, Ozark’s a great combination of the domestic turmoil & criminal tumult. Jason Bateman, Laura Linney, Julia Garner, and Peter Mullan make for a great cast. It is no Narcos, but the cast & the ending manage to deliver the goods.

Breaking Bad

It’s impossible to list down shows about the Mexican cartels and not include Breaking Bad in it. Set in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Breaking Bad is one of the most gripping & unique plots to ever have been created. A chemistry teacher finds out he is dying of cancer. Before he does, however, he wants to leave his family financially comfortable. 

He teams up with a former student and launches his career as a meth kingpin. This isn’t a solution most people dying of cancer would come up with, but that’s what makes Breaking Bad so unique. It’s also a commentary on how the certainty of death can generate a destructive brand of fearlessness.

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Kritika is a writer and communications consultant based in India. She loves consuming stories in all forms – books, movies, TV shows – and places these stories under a fierce assessment to see if they are feminist, empathetic or entertaining enough. All of Kritika's work is undergirded by her passion for mental health.

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