On May 5, Mexico’s most infamous drug trafficker sat in a blue jailhouse overall in a New York court, his beauty queen wife waving from the public seats.
Presiding Judge Brian Cogan faced Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman and ruled that the 60-year-old would stand trial in April 2018 for allegedly smuggling billions of dollars worth of narcotics to American users. The proposed date prompted Guzman’s lawyers to laugh and protest that it would take much longer to prepare for such a landmark case, which stretches back decades and involves multiple prison escapes, cross-border smuggling tunnels and bloodshed.
But well before this daunting drug drama will be played out in the courts, it’s being broadcast to millions of viewers on the small screen. The series El Chapo, recreating Guzman’s skullduggery since the 1980s, reaches the finale of its first season on Sunday on Spanish-language broadcaster Univision — after which its co-producer Netflix will offer it to a global audience, beginning early June.
Adding to the close running of fact and fantasy, the series mixes real news footage of Guzman’s arrests and escapes along with a dramatization of events, in which the drug lord is played by Mexican actor Marco de la O. The series has brought in healthy audiences so far, with Univision confirming on Wednesday that it will be renewed for a second season.
Despite its popularity, the mere existence of the series has been controversial in Mexico. Politicians there have long railed against songs, movies or telenovelas glorifying the gangsters, who continue to pile up mountains of corpses — the first three months of this year were among Mexico’s most violent in recent history with more than 5,700 homicides. But while other fictional portrayals of mobsters have followed those long out the business (Netflix’s Narcos covered Pablo Escobar, who was shot dead in 1993), Guzman was only extradited to the United States in January, and several of his family members are alleged to be major players in the ongoing turf wars inside his so-called Sinaloa Cartel.
Furthermore, when a trailer first appeared for the series, a lawyer for Guzman said the producers should pay the drug lord for rights to make his biopic. “He is alive. He has to grant them permission,” Andrés Granados told a Mexican radio station last year. Meanwhile, Mexican soap star Kate del Castillo has said Guzman granted her exclusive rights to tell his story and plans to make her own film about him. Del Castillo along with actor Sean Penn met with Guzman in the mountains in 2015 following his second prison escape.
However, El Chapo series creator Silvana Aguirre argues her version is neither a straight biopic of the kingpin nor a glorification of his lifestyle. Instead, she tells TIME, it is a study of the international drug trade, which demands better public understanding. “It covers the issue of drug trafficking with a more macro vision: drug trafficking as a business, the systematic corruption in Mexico, and even …
Source:: Time – Entertainment