La Reina del Sur

May 2016 –  oh em gee. Can we talk about La Reina del Sur!!! I was actually really late to this whole thing. I just happened to need something to binge watch, clicked on episode one and never stopped. I don’t know what it is about Kate del Castillo’s performance but I LOVED it. She seemed like such a familiar character to me. I along with her fell in love with all her men, El Guero… even in flashback and memory I loved him…and then El Gallego. Oh man I loved their fire and passion.

Some of my friends didn’t want to watch it because they didn’t want to engage in perpetuating negative stereotypes. I understand, BUT they are missing out because this was DOPE. From the beginning Teresa, la Mexicana, was a strong female lead. What I appreciate about her character is that she never did drugs, so she wasn’t a cartel queen the way it seems. She kind of fell into that life. She starts off running for her life because she has found out her man has been killed, as she is running the streets barely dressed out of the shower, she runs to her best friend’s house only to find they have murdered her BFF and the kids…finally Teresa makes it to their safe house and that’s when the cartel guys find her! She attempts to fight her way out, one of them decided he is going to rape her. In the middle of her being raped, she manages to grab a gun and shoot him in the head. This was all in the first episode!

Immigration – The story line then takes her to Spain. That was one of the cool turns with this novela, we were able to see other parts of the world. As a fugitive from the cartel she is now in a foreign country without citizenship, she has to call on a favor to find her employment. She ends up working a bar/men’s club owned by Dris, who is a Spanish muslim (I think) but right off the bat she sets him straight, she is no “working girl” and makes that clear. She ends up being the only female that gets to work behind the bar running the cash register. Eventually her head smarts lead her to being in charge, much to the dismay of Dris. – The funny part is that I related a lot to this part of her story, she cares for Dris because she’s loyal even though he isn’t the greatest boss and she really runs the show, in the end he betrays her. Sounds parallel to my job at the time –  We are introduced to some of her friends and through their stories we explore immigration from African immigrants and others that are trying to migrate to Spain, and how they are squeezed out often left in-between the countries. Up until then I had not thought past our own immigration situation here in the states. No lie, they were really ahead of their time. One of the episodes even goes as far as to show how the little tiny boats are tightly packed and a child falls overboard, the boat continues on.

Girl Power — I haven’t seen a lot novelas since I was a little girl, so I don’t know if this is the norm or not but I appreciate the strong girl power represented. We had her ride or die friend Fatima, who names her La Mexicana, who has  been a true and genuine friend. Then we have the tragic and beloved character, Patty: young, beautiful, wealthy and flawed.  Teresa meets her after the death of her second love (El Gallego who was set up and killed during an explosion while driving a boat of drug shipment.) After  the accident,  Teresa is sent to prison where she meets the socialite, Patty (Paris Hilton type character.) As the two get to know each other, Patty falls for Teresa, but the feeling is not mutual. However, Teresa does value her friendship and trust her. The two decide to become business partners. I loved it – I would like to give props to this novela for introducing an LGBT character who is beautiful, smart and witty –

Now having decided that love is not for her and not having any resources, Teresa decides to get into the trafficking game. Patty has connections and knows how to cut some corners to get the product they need. Teresa knows the drug routes across the oceans and has learned from the best (her future husband who was killed) El Gallego. Although it is a dark turn for our leading lady, I found a lot of comfort in it. Each time that she has died inside, due to a huge loss in her love life, I appreciated that they kept it real and had her shut down. That is how I have dealt with things in my own life. It hurts, but I shut down and focus on work, as she did. (Except I don’t end up sitting on a mound of wealth as the Queen of the Pacific. ) The power duo now enters the man’s world of cartel kings, and they build a empire! It was actually really inspiring; facing the world of the narco ruled by men, having to be strong female characters, never showing signs of weakness, etc… it was relatable.

Fashion – That is where we begin to see the rise and the making of a cartel queen. Here is where the fashion takes a step up. Although it is still like outdated, I will call it upclass ratchet. Whatever it was I LOVED IT. Teresa wasn’t a typical female lead, she wasn’t dressed salaciously as it normally is seen. She dressed like a tom boy for most of the series and even when we see her transformation her outfits are strong and feminine but not trampy.

Love  — Finding love again as the queen, comes at a price. She falls in love with her accountant and we fall in love with her, turns out he is a climber and a womanizer. He is using Teresa to advance his career and of course launder her money. She finds out that he is the mole in her business right around the same time she finds out she is pregnant! VALGAME DIOS!  This was one of the best death scenes, she simply closes the doors behind her as we hear his screams when he is shot. (don’t feel bad he totally deserved it, she gave him plenty of chances to come clean and she caught him with another woman while she was pregnant, then discovered – in addition to his girlfriend(s)- he also had a wife ) This would be the 3rd love lost for her.

It is at this time that Patty’s heavy partying is blinding her and her feelings for Teresa, during a coke binged, drunken night things take a turn and our favorite party girl drives off a cliff while having a fight with her Teresa look-a-like Mexicana girlfriend because she has found out the girlfriend is an undercover agent! The DEA ask Patty to keep everything hush and at first it seems like she is going to cooperate but in the end, loyal and true, she confesses to Teresa that she was right to suspect her girlfriend, and she was an undercover agent. Having survived the crash while her girlfriend died and the fact that the girlfriend was an undercover agent, was too much for Patty to bear, she has a tragic departure taking her own life in a bath tub. This was a really beautifully written death scene, she gives her cryptic goodbye and heads off to shower, Teresa runs in and finds Patty sitting in a filled bath, and her wrist slit. Devastated, Teresa climbs in, as only a best friend would, into the blood filled bath and cradles Patty’s body. OMG it was legit the SADDEST, I was for reals in tears…it took me like a few hours to take break for Paty’s death …

Alone again, with a baby on the way, she wants out of the life, to disappear. In the end the queen comes home to collect on the debt that is owed to her and the showdown begins. The ending was pretty BAD ASS, a shootout to the death with her nemesis; and Pote, the man that once was sent to kill her, now a loyal bodyguard and by her side to the very end.

La Reina finally is free in the end and we see her about 6 months pregnant looking out into the horizon. EL FIN.

Oh if only real life were that simple, the real Reina del Pacifico had a lot similarities but her son was kidnapped and in her efforts to get him back led to her being captured, either way the real life and fictional queen had/have fascinating lives!

BTW, after the I snapped out of my netflix coma, I started reading about Sandra Avila Beltran the woman who this novela was based on, the Reina del Pacifico. This is one of the best most insightful articles on the real “Teresa, La Mexicana” –  Queen of Cartels: Reina del Pacifico Sandra Ávila Beltrán

P.S. I tried to watch the English version, Queen of the South. Hated it. I couldn’t even make it to the 3rd episode.

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