Thursday, October 10, 2013

Behind the Scenes of ESCOBAR


Let’s put things in perspective…
There is no doubt that the show is popular. One report confirms that “the final episode of this hit novella delivered the second highest rated finale in the network history, behind smash success of “La Reina del Sur”, with over 2.3 million viewers and nearly 1.4 million adults 18-49. The novela’s full run, finale included, averaged 1,709,000 total viewers and 997,000 adults 18-49” (TV by the Numbers). This show is an undeniably popular and, I would not disagree! I am a little less than a third of the way through the season and I am hooked. 

Against my strongest instinct, Pablo has become more of a protagonist to me than ever before. Maybe I am desensitized to what his actions but, in a way, his decisions seem to be more rational than ever before. His life has become increasingly dangerous but as usual, he manages to get out of every situation with a clever plan. The political aspect of the show is now the primary plotline instead of a subplot. This excites me because Escobar's impact on Columbia politically was the primary reason I was watching the show -- I am an International Affairs major. While mass media does interest me, it is the psychological aspect of things that I find most intriguing. Dr. A's focus groups are very similar to something that a political analyst would do for field research. How will what a group thinks about something alter their future decisions? In this case, the consumption of the show tugs at native Columbians heartstrings. For another generation at least, citizens will be feeling the consequences of Escobar's actions. 

The question I would like to briefly address, is how did they do it? Who did it? Because we have spent the past few class periods focusing on the production of telenovelas, it is only appropriate that I focus my analysis this week on a bit of the “Behind the Scenes” aspect of Patron del Mal. I tried my best to research the casting process and get some good interviews.

Will the writer please stand up?
The genius writer behind the novela is Juan Camilo Ferrand, a native Columbian, who was schooled in film in California. His experience allowed him to write a script that permitted  Escobar to be accepted at face value. When he was fair and generous, we would forget that the man in front of us was a drug lord. From my understanding, it was not Ferrand who was inspired to create the show; it was the sons and daughters of victims of Escobar's crimes, who were inspired to create the series. 

Although this video is completely in Spanish, it provides a good overview of the show's plot as well as the mission of the writers when creating the novela. 

In my opinion, the producers did a wonderful job casting Escobar-- not only because he is a fantastic actor but because he look so similar to Escobar! In fact, Parra had to put on 20 pounds for the role. One website I found matched the face of each of the actors with the real life villain/ politician. Needless to say, I was very impressed and thought the rest of the class would enjoy the side-by-side comparisons. 

Pablo Escobar Gaviria - Andrés Parra
Virgina Vallejo - Angie Cepeda
Luis Carlos Galán - Nicolás Montero
Rodrigo Lara Bonilla - Ernesto Benjumea
Gustavo Gaviria - Christian Tappan

I would like to end this blog post by inviting whoever wants to over to my house to watch it. I am now on episode 32! And I will make popcorn! :)


  1. Wow! I really enjoyed reading this! I admire your level of research that you did in order to put it in this post. It definitely adds authenticity to the post because facts are indisputable.

    I also am now very interested in this telenovela without having been provided too many spoilers. I think the side-by-side comparisons are a great idea too, it gives the audience a more well-rounded idea of the representation and identity of each actorc/haracter.

    I think the conversational tone of this post is very beneficial for the topic at hand. Yes, it's possible to be in an essay format, but this is a blog about telenovelas, write however. For example, I laughed when I read "Will the writer please stand up?" because that's very lighthearted and fun.

    This is a fantastic post and it has definitely intrigued my interest.

    -Brandon S. Chambers

  2. Great blog post! Very good job. The interview was also very fascinating! One of the questions the writer brought up, "who was Pablo Escobar?" reminded me of what Dr.A has brought up in class: that all her research begins with a question. And here I think that was the founding question. Not, let's drag up this horrifying episode in Colombia's past and sell it under the mindset of "if it bleeds it leads" but rather simply, who was this man? A basic question that can bloom into a telenovela: how was he like with his wife, his mistresses? How can he be both the face of terror as well as a robin hood figure to so many?
    It makes me wonder if all telenovela's, especially narconevelas and novelas that are trying to say something about or to society, like Leonardo Padron's works , all begin with a question. Maybe even telenovela rosa's begin with a question like what all can "true love" endure? And from there we get baby switches, affairs and all the other juicy drama that occurs.

    Also defiantly yes to all the Pablo Escobar watchers to get together, especially to watch the finale! I just have to catch up to you and we should all set a date