What is the story about?
The series looks at the events leading up to a massacre in the village of Allende in Mexico in 2011 at the hands of a dreaded drug cartel, due to the actions of the US Drug Enforcement Agency.
Crime dramas based on Mexico's drug trade have been done so many times, and Netflix already has the hit series Narcos in its vast catalogue. At first glance, you think Somos is another addition to this ever-growing list. Yet, even though the names of various figures are fictionalized, this series is based on the 2017 Propublica article chronicling the infamous Allende massacre in 2011 carried out by the Zetas cartel. The knowledge that these are real events weighs heavily on the story, and creator James Schamus makes sure he focusses on the lives of the residents, with all their hopes, joys and disappointments in full flow. At the same time, he makes sure that the audience knows the massacre happened due to a misjudgment on the part of the Drug Enforcement Agency in the US. The spirit of eerie foreboding is built up pretty early in the six-part series, but Schamus' story shines when it is Allende, and not when the point of view is with the DEA. The final episode is low on blood and gore, but it hits you like a ton of bricks. This is not a series to be recommended to everybody, but if you want to see a drama where the ruthlessness of law enforcement can result in the death of an entire village, you can give this a watch.
Most of the sprawling cast are untrained actors and they do a pretty good job of conveying the mood of the story, with Armando Silva excelling as a crooked manager forced to help the DEA, and a decent Mercedes Hernandez as the pushcart vendor Dona Chayo, who knows more about the town than she lets on.
Music & Other Departments
Ignacio Prieto's cinematography is impressive, especially in the final episode.
The series hits its high points when it chooses to focus on the lives of the residents of Allende, and their problems and hopes. This also makes the final episode a hard emotional wallop for the audience.
Some parts of the story can appear overtly manipulative and repetitive.
Did I enjoy it?
The story is gripping but also melancholic. The last episode is particularly difficult to watch.
Do I recommend it?
If you're in the mood for a good crime drama based on real life, you can give this a watch. However, the dark and depressing storyline can act as a trigger for certain audiences.