One of the first things I put in my queue when I finally signed up for Netflix was Kingpin. No, not the terrible Farrelly Brothers bowling “comedy” with Randy Quaid and Woody Harrelson. The NBC mini-series from a few years back about a Mexican drug cartel. It was one of the last things Aaron Spelling produced; maybe it was encroaching dementia, but it was full of awesomeness like: Danny Trejo raving about how Palo Mayombe made his men bulletproof (only to be proved tragically — and hilariously! — wrong); DEA agents being fed to tigers, and dudes getting tasered in the junk. Also my big dumb Latin boyfriend Bobby Cannavale played the most adorable enforcer ever. Even when he’s dragging hapless prostitutes off to be murdered, you’re like “Aww, so cute!”

The show suffered a lot of unfair “Oh, it’s Mexican Sopranos!” scoffs, but I really thought there were more differences than similarities between the shows. Even ignoring the differences in character and plot, stylistically it was completely different. Okay, they were both about organized crime, and the main protagonist sometimes felt conflicted, but the similarities end there. For one thing, storylines followed characters who weren’t in La Corporación, from the DEA agents trying to take them down, to a plastic surgeon who was only tangentially involved with them. And the wife wasn’t some Carmela Soprano-esque simpering bitch, but a driven, ambitious woman who helped build the organization. She was La Corporación’s lawyer; she was also a gringa, and you really saw how that affected how she was accepted (or not) by the family. (She was also played by Sheryl “Laura Palmer” Lee. Holla!)

Probably the biggest difference between Kingpin and The Sopranos was that I didn’t feel like throwing every single character in Kingpin under a freight train.

Anyway, if you find your Netflix queue getting low and you want something that will take up a rainy Sunday afternoon (it’s only 6 episodes), keep it in mind.


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