Exploring Digital Purgatory: Cocaine Cowboys: The Kings of Miami


The Movie or TV Show: Cocaine Cowboys: The Kings of Miami

One Sentence Premise Summary: Billy Corben continues to explore the insanity of Miami by looking at two of the biggest drug kingpins (Augusto Falcon and Salvador Magluta) in the history of the city and ultimately the country.

Where You Can Stream It: Netflix (As of August 12, 2021)

Why You Should Stream This:

There are so many docuseries these days across every streaming platform that it’s sometimes  hard to differentiate one from another. Thanks to shows like The Jinx, these are so ubiquitous. Billy Corben, a director based out of Florida, has tried to get this project off the ground for over a decade. He’s even made a couple of films entitled Cocaine Cowboys. In an era of IP and recognizable names, even documentaries can live on in perpetuity.

I walked into this show not knowing what else could possibly be said about the Miami drug scene. Here’s the thing. Corben is a really goof filmmaker. The 2006 film of the same name is excellent. He directed two of the better 30 for 30 episodes on ESPN (Broke and The U: Part One). Some of his sequel projects haven’t been as successful, which is why I was hesitant about this show. Thankfully, my hesitancy was relieved in the very first episode.

Netflix has created an atmosphere of bingeable but forgettable shows. Their formula is so get viewers buzzing through shows. Corben understands this and created the perfect Netflix docuseries. I often think about how these six episode runs could afford to lose one or two episodes. This justifies its near six hour existence by keeping the story moving and allowing the subjects to tell their stories. It’s remarkable what gets said and how honest nearly everyone is about their involvement in crimes. Generic talking heads can be the death of some documentaries (I’m looking at you Woodstock 99 documentary produced by The Ringer), but these talking heads are entertaining. Corben has a knack for these stories and for finding the right people to speak on these stories.

The first episode quickly gets us through the beginnings and a lot of the glory of this particular group. I wondered what could possibly be so interesting that this was all seemingly background. Falcon and Magluta’s journey through the court system truly represents the worst of the American justice system. While there is bribery and jury tampering going on, Corben also manages to expose just how awful and unfair the government can be. The conclusion one can come to is that everyone is bad and corrupt. The only difference is some people get paid by the government to be those things.

Amazingly, I started watching the first episode the day it came out and was finished about six hours later. Thankfully, the show is both watchable but also a really engaging story.

Best Performance: There are so many characters worthy of this award, and it’s a shame the producers could not talk to main subjects because I can only imagine the level of insight they could have provided. Marilyn Bonachea really was the person who drove the best parts of this docuseries as she had a lot of knowledge about what was going on but also had a sense of humor. There is also a certain tragedy to what she had to go through in certain stages when she was in the wind and on the lamb.

Best Quote: He spent three weeks trying to get my number. I said, ‘I’ll give you one number per week.’”— Marilyn Bonachea

Final Grade: A-

Next week, Coda!

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