By Katherine Coble || News Editor
Since its arrival on the media scene in the late 1990s, Netflix has been changing the way Americans – and now people worldwide – consume television and film. Their increasing involvement in the production of Netflix Original series has also garnered worldwide attention and hundreds of Emmy nominations – plus 43 wins for series as diverse as Black Mirror, The Crown, and Orange is the New Black. According to an interview with Indie Wire, more than 60% of Netflix’s audience is now international. It makes sense that they would expand their Netflix Originals from domestic to international settings. These include the Spanish cult hit Money Heist, the Brazilian dystopia 3%, and the German dramas Dark and Babylon Berlin.
Now Netflix has come out with their first-ever Colombian original series, Green Frontier (Spanish title Frontera Verde) – a worthy addition to their already enormous Spanish-language offerings. Green Frontier, which takes place in the depths of the Colombian Amazon, was coincidentally released during the same week worldwide attention and horror was brought to the wildfires breaking out in the Amazon rainforest. This tragic coincidence is actually deeply meaningful, as much of Green Frontier centers upon the relationship between man and nature.
Although it opens as a conventional crime thriller with an unconventional setting, Green Frontier is much more likely to satisfy fans of science-fiction than fans of murder-mystery. The show is best described as an exploration into magic realism – perhaps fitting, since this genre is most commonly associated with Latin American literature including the works of famous Colombian author Gabriel García Márquez.
Green Frontier lures the viewer in through the mysterious deaths of Catholic missionaries in an isolated part of the Colombian wilderness and the arrival of detective Helena Poveda, sent from the capital to investigate the murders. But it quickly develops into an exploration of history, indigenous culture, and the conflict between those who wish to exploit the Amazon’s power and those who respectfully call it their home. Much of the mystery involved in Green Frontier’s plot ultimately lies less with the murders and more with questions of the past, family, and human connection.
Green Frontier falls into many of the flaws Netflix Originals are known for. It moves at a snail’s pace, and viewers expecting a quick-witted exploration of its opening crime (or subsequent mysteries) will undoubtedly be disappointed. Even its ending feels mildly anti-climactic, playing out over the course of a full hour rather than fifteen or twenty minutes as one may expect. The show is a saga of exploration, meandering unhurriedly from one discovery to another.
If Green Frontier took place in any other setting, this may have become a fatal flaw: but the show’s backdrop serves as its saving grace (and most interesting plot point.) Indeed, the rainforest itself is the most important – and fascinating – character that Green Frontier has to offer. Over the course of eight episodes, averaging forty minutes each, there is plenty of time for gorgeous slow-moving camera shots of the Amazon and its beauty. Green Frontier takes advantage of its environment whenever possible, and is all the better for it.Green Frontier is far from a perfect show – but is undoubtedly worth the binge for those interested in nature, magic, death, and the intersection of the three. Netflix’s first foray into Colombian television is a promising start, and hints at greater and better things to come.
Senior Katherine Coble is the News Editor. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.