“Griselda” PEOPLE Review: Sofía Vergara Is Sensational as Colombian Drug Lord Griselda Blanco

The 'Modern Family' alum plays real-life Godmother of Cocaine, Griselda Blanco, in the new Netflix series

<p>Netflix</p> Sofía Vergara in


Sofía Vergara in 'Griselda'

Sofía Vergara, as beautifully exotic as a bird of paradise, was an invaluable — and very funny — member of ABC’s Modern Family ensemble for 11 seasons.

Now, in the Netflix limited series Griselda, she plays notorious drug lord Griselda Blanco — a role that puts her front and center in a major dramatic vehicle. There's no ensemble here, just Vergara and a disposable bunch of minions and victims. She’s terrific.

Griselda is co-created by Eric Newman, an executive producer on Netflix’s Narcos and Narcos: Mexico, but don’t expect the grim grittiness of those shows, or anything like Wagner Moura’s baggy-eyed, paunchy Pablo Escobar.

Vergara wears a prosthetic nose that gives her a vaguely leonine look, but she doesn’t resemble the real Griselda, who built up and ran a Miami-based cartel in the 1970s and 1980s and was killed in her native Colombia in 2012. (Judging from photographs, the real Griselda had a tough, vivid garishness that might have served her well as the heroine of a John Waters movie.)

Related: Sofía Vergara Transforms into a Murderous and Makeup-Free Drug Queenpin in Trailer for Netflix's Griselda

At odd moments, instead, Vergara suggests Luann de Lesseps from The Real Housewives of New York City.

Vergara’s performance is an irresistible star turn that never sacrifices an almost- retro sense of glamour, no matter how many hit jobs Griselda orders. Using a cigarette as an elegant prop, Vergara could be in an old black-and-white Hollywood production. You can imagine her standing on a balcony, half listening to a cocktail being shaken in the room behind her while a band plays a rumba below.

Blanco’s life ended miserably — prison, most of her children dead, assassination — but her fate here feels more like Carey Mulligan’s as Mrs. Leonard Bernstein in Maestro: Such is a woman’s heartache in this world run by men!

<p>Courtesy of Netflix</p> Vergara, as Griselda, doesn't beat around the bush.

Courtesy of Netflix

Vergara, as Griselda, doesn't beat around the bush.

Related: Sofía Vergara Says Griselda Role Required Her to Channel a 'Woman That Turned into This Monster' (Exclusive)

Griselda is essentially a romantic fantasy with cocaine and corpses — Scarface without the scars.

Of the supporting players, Alberto Guerra, as a hitman who becomes Griselda's husband, and Martín Rodríguez, as one of her henchman, come closest to making some sort of dramatic impression, but they have a way of sidling out of view and vanishing into the shadows, like well-trained butlers. Everyone here serves to showcase Vergara.

And why not? Her sexual physicality is magnetic and seductive — and unflagging across six episodes.

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Griselda is now streaming on Netflix.

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