Monday, November 21, 2016

Queen of the South

Queen of the South is a TV show that ran this summer on USA Network. Since I just spent an entire weekend binge watching season one, I thought I'd tell you about it.

Based on the book by the same name by Arturo Perez-Riverte, it is not for the feint of heart. He says he got the idea for the main character from women he met who were surviving behind enemy lines throughout his 21-year career as a reporter in hot zones around the world.

It's about a woman who gets so trapped by the world of Mexican drug cartels she finds her choices in life narrow and narrow. It's filled with violence, drugs and sex. Some of the violence is graphic, but I could not stop watching episode after episode after episode. Rival cartels. Husbands and wives on opposite ends. Deceit. Survival. The story sets up situations where each character is forced to identify their exact line of morality and watch it move with circumstances. It makes The Sopranos look like a children's birthday party. 

The story begins with a woman in white, dressed impeccably walking into a fancy house. She's telling us how her life could end one day. And then she is shot. The entire series is a flashback to how she got to that day. 

Teresa Mendoza started out as a small time money changer in the poor community of Sinaloa, Mexico. She meets and falls in love with a handsome and rich man who treats her well. He's high up in a cartel and it turns out he and his best friend were skimming from his bosses. Bad idea. He dies. His best friend dies. Teresa goes on the run and winds up in the middle of an epic battle between a husband and wife cartel team who wage war as foreplay. The husband is running for governor and the wife, she wants to run the entire drug business while he plays at politics. 

Teresa fights every day to stay alive, things get trickier and trickier and she looks for leverage, instead of merely being leverage.  A strong woman, she is loyal and tough in the most dangerous of situations. But we know she will rise to be that woman in white dress. A woman who runs things. The woman who gets shot. 

We meet multiple characters that we alternately root for and shrink from, along the way. This show is as addictive as the drugs the characters sell and it will take you to another world. I cannot wait until it returns next summer. 

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