Queen of the South (La Reina del Sur)–Reigning Supreme
Based on the global best-selling novel “La Reina Del Sur,” by internationally-acclaimed author Arturo Pérez-Reverte, Queen of the South, a bilingual telenovela crime drama, has become one of the most popular series of all time for USA and its sister network, Telemundo. Queen of the South, now in its fifth season, is a winner. Thank you, USA, for continuing to add gritty, noir-ish series to your program roster!
A “Narcos” or “El Chapo”-style drama about the rise of drug lord Teresa Mendoza (played by the exceptional Alice Braga, niece of the renowned actress Sonia Braga), we see a new first. Instead of a ruthless kingpin of a Mexican drug cartel like Guzman (El Chapo), we see Teresa Mendoza. She navigates and outsmarts a world dominated by men and machismo to become the queen (or queenpin?) of Sinaloa.
At one point, forced to flee Mexico, Teresa finds herself in Dallas, Texas where her street-smarts move her rapidly into the highest ranks of the Vargas cartel,. The cartel is embroiled in a fierce rivalry between Epifanio Vargas and his estranged wife, Camila (the attention-stopping Veronica Falcon). A knuckle-biting set of episodes in each season highlights how Teresa is bound by a cat-and-mouse game in order to survive. She has to rely on her own strategic thinking and instincts to stay one step ahead of the feuding Vargas cartels and avoid capture and death.
A violent, intense drama in the genre of “narcos” , Queen of the South is highly original in providing two great lead performances by the pair of queens fighting over who shall rule the cartels of Culiacan.
Note: The violence is disturbing, with rape and brutal “interrogation” techniques. The writing, however, is superb and almost never sags in pace, characterization, and plot.
Available on Netflix Streaming.