The first season of Netflix original series Narcos was explicitly based on the life of DEA agent Steve Murphy, and that was reflected in both his voiceover and the way that his investigation drove the first ten episodes of the series. But in the second season, the show has pivoted to focus on the DEA's hunt for Pablo Escobar in the last few months of his life, making Pablo the central character. So, considering that change, what is Narcos Season 2 based on? The answer seems to be simply, "the death of Pablo Escobar," since the whole season's marketing revolved around knowing that by the 10th episode, Pablo would have met his end on a Medellín rooftop. However, as The Hollywood Reporter pointed out when interviewing executive producer Eric Newman, the show has also started shifting and fictionalizing some events in order to make the show's drama more compelling, and less beholden to Murphy's perspective. That makes sense, since Season 2 concludes the Pablo story.
Even though the second season is based on real events, the perspective seems a lot more neutral than the first, relying on news for the big stuff — where Escobar made his escape, was known to be hiding, and eventually died — and filling in the gaps by imagining how these characters would be feeling, from a young woman roped into the drug trade by her brother all the way to the Colombian military officials. There are also some original and composite characters helping to create a narrative that overall feels more streamlined than in Season 1. So there's no one book or even one journalist dropped by Newman or any of the other producers on Narcos to explain the extent of where they drew the line between fact and fiction.
Some are not enjoying Narcos' somewhat ahistorical perspective, or the way it's been changing some of Escobar's real-life actions. Escobar's son, Sebastian Marroquin, complained about several plot lines the show to The Mirror, and most of his complaints dealt with moments he claims his father had no part in.
According to Deadline, executive producer Newman has decided that it's the drug war, not Murphy or Escobar, that will come to define Narcos' future seasons, and could be called the series' source. "The successors to Medellín were the Cali cartel, who had been No. 2 to Escobar," Newman said. "I’m hoping at some point, if we were to tell other stories, to bring [Escobar] through… I just love the guy so much and I’d love to keep working with him."
The show's relationship with real history has shifted more towards fiction as time goes on, but bringing Pablo Escobar back from the dead is probably too far.
Image: Juan Pablo Gutierrez/Netflix (2)