“Griselda” on Netflix: Sofía Vergara’s Controversial Portrayal of Griselda Blanco
A fictionalized miniseries about the infamous Colombian drug lord Griselda Blanco is set to debut on Netflix, but not without stirring controversy over Sofía Vergara’s portrayal of the ruthless killer.
The six-part series, titled “Griselda,” has faced criticism for casting Vergara, known for her comedic roles, as the notorious drug lord. The controversy is heightened by the physical transformation of Vergara into a much thinner version of Blanco, prompting discussions about historical accuracy.
“Griselda” delves into the rise and fall of Griselda Blanco, also known as “The Godmother” or “la madrina,” within the male-dominated drug trade of the late 1970s and early 1980s. The series covers Blanco’s ascent in Miami, her innovative methods of smuggling cocaine, and her criminal empire built with the help of other immigrant women. Blanco’s story is marked by her ability to elude authorities while orchestrating numerous murders. Arrested in 1985, she served nearly 20 years for cocaine trafficking and was later assassinated in Colombia in 2012.
Controversy and Transformation:
The decision to cast Vergara has sparked controversy, with critics questioning the authenticity of the portrayal and the choice to alter Vergara’s appearance significantly. William Nericcio, author of “Talking #Browntv: Latinas and Latinos on the Screen,” notes that Hollywood prioritizes entertainment over historical accuracy.
It’s not uncommon for the entertainment industry to prioritize recognizable faces over unknown actors who may better resemble the historical figures they portray. Vergara’s popularity and audience draw played a significant role in her casting, emphasizing the industry’s focus on show business rather than historical accuracy.
A Fun Project for the Cast:
Colombian Italian actor Aurora Cossio, who plays Estela, one of Blanco’s accomplices, describes “Griselda” as a fun project due to its commitment to featuring an almost all-Latino cast. While recognizing the controversy, she expresses satisfaction in being part of the right project with the right people.
As the executive producer of the series, Vergara has defended her decision to take on the role of Griselda Blanco. She cites the lack of opportunities for Latino actors as a motivation for pursuing the project, aiming to shed light on the complex character Blanco represented.
In interviews, Vergara has revealed a personal connection to the era depicted in the series, stating that she grew up during that time, with her brother being involved in the drug business and later killed in the 90s. This connection adds a personal dimension to her portrayal of Blanco.
To embody Griselda Blanco, Vergara underwent a significant physical transformation using makeup, prosthetics, and uncomfortable undergarments to hide her natural curves. Despite challenges, Vergara expressed her dedication to portraying the multi-faceted character.
Complex Character Exploration:
Vergara has highlighted the complexity of Griselda Blanco as an anti-hero, businesswoman, mother, and cold-blooded killer during the cocaine wars. She sees Blanco as a compelling character deserving exploration beyond the stereotypes associated with drug lords.
As “Griselda” debuts on Netflix, the controversy surrounding Sofía Vergara’s portrayal adds layers to the discussion of historical accuracy, casting choices, and the balance between entertainment and authenticity in portraying true stories. Whether the miniseries succeeds in presenting a nuanced narrative of Griselda Blanco remains to be seen.