There is no question but that the war on drugs has produced death, suffering, ruination of lives, official corruption (i.e., bribery), violence, gang wars, drug cartels, drug lords, overfilled prisons, destruction of civil liberties, kidnappings, arbitrary seizure of assets, wasteful bureaucracies, and other nasty consequences. In fact, it is impossible to come up with any positive consequence of the drug war … except one: The many series, movies, and documentaries that revolve around the drug war.
One of the most fascinating aspects of the drug war has been its effect on the film industry. Countless movies and television series have come out of this deadly and destructive government program, both here in the United States and in Latin America. Many of them have proven to be extremely good and very popular.
Ozark, which has just wrapped up its final season, is a good example. Another one that is soon ending is Better Call Saul, which is the prequel to another excellent and popular drug-war series called Breaking Bad.
Narcos provided an excellent description of the rise of the drug cartels in South America. Narcos Mexico revolved around the kidnapping, torture, and execution of DEA agent Kiki Camarena. I highly recommend a documentary entitled The Last Narc.
Another popular and excellent English-language drug-war series is Justified. There is also the famous series from the 2000s called The Wire. Its creator, David Simon, now has a new drug-movie out called We Own This City.
And then there are the Spanish-language drug-war series and movies, which probably far outnumber the English-language ones. One really good and popular one that I greatly enjoyed is La Reina del Sur, which stars the famous Mexican actress Kate del Castillo (who is now an American citizen). It consists of two seasons totaling 123 episodes. Ironically, drug-war actions by the Mexican government against del Castillo have caused her not to return to Mexico.
La Reina del Sur was so popular that it was converted into an English-language version called Queen of the South.
Other Spanish-language drug-war series include Señora Acero and El Cartel, neither of which I have seen. One that I particularly enjoyed though was The Queen of Flow.
Ironically, many of these drug-war series glorify drug dealers and drug lords. In many of them, you just can’t help liking or sympathizing with those who U.S. drug warriors would call the “bad guys.”
Of course, I have just scratched the surface in terms of the massive effect that the drug war has had on film. Just Google terms like “drug-war series,” “cartel movies,” “best narco series,” and “series de drogas.” You will see what I mean.
Even though the drug war has destroyed liberty and privacy, has killed so many people, and ruined so many lives, even while enriching the pockets of the drug lords and the drug-war enforcers, at least there has been one redeeming part of it: many really great films have come out of the drug war.