“Queen of the South” (USA) takes us into a sexy, ethnic, fast moving world with which we have some general familiarity but no actual experience, i.e., the raw and dangerous world of the Mexican drug cartel trade as it spills across the border into Texas.
We’ve all been witness to the ravages of drugs on America and no matter what your politics, somewhere in the back of your mind there lives the ever resident question, “Where does it all come from and why can’t it be stopped?” Beats the hell out of me and I’m not telling you “Queen of the South” has the answer. But where realism collides with authenticity on television, “Queen of the South” is the explosive result. This may not be how it really is, but if it isn’t I damn sure don’t want to be anywhere near the real thing.
“Queen of the South” is based on the book “La Reina Del Sur” which was a huge hit on USA’s Spanish language sister network, Telemundo. Whatever they did on Telemundo, they worked out all the kinks because the show is firing on cylinders: a cast that looks like early release, a storyline that feels ripped from a long-term undercover DEA operation that got leaked to the L.A. Times, characters with compelling traits that are real people traits and – get this – no make up and lead men and women without six-pack front ends with their shirts off.
Perhaps the most refreshing thing about “Queen” is its honesty. You can dress it up and walk it around with a lot of psycho-babble but at its core it chronicles the lives of the desperate few who are willing to do whatever it takes to succeed in the criminal enterprise of drugs. And “Queen” is starkly honest about it all: through the camera, you’re along for the blood (and there’s plenty of it), the smuggling, the violence and just general depravity, the corrupting of officials, the duplicity between partners, the sex between the young soldiers (men and women) coming up and the leaders (Boomer aged) at the top. Sidebar: The young sex is hot -- there's a cut away scene in episode one on the hood of a car that will have you hitting "back." The older sex is honest, you're NOT going to hit "back," but you are going nod your head in appreciation that you won't lose the moves.
“Queen” paints anything but a pretty picture of this sordid, squalor exploitation of the human condition save for one undeniable fact: money runs like water and the only limitation on your ability to be successful is the level of violence you are willing to put forth.
A lot of the dialogue is in Spanish and runs without subtitles – if you speak Spanish you quickly understand why no one wanted THAT in subtitles! But curiously, a lot of the English IS in subtitles because the bi-lingual actors who speak English do so with an accent and the titles may help.
The production values are stunning… it’s like they shot this for a movie, then cut it up for a series, i.e., HD all the way. The actors are accomplished, accredited, and well known internationally -- many you’ll recognize but won’t know their names. For this review, it doesn’t matter – what matters is that they’re working together like a giant Swiss watch to bring you a show that’s simply never been seen on television before. This is a ground breaker.