While maintaining some familiar aspects of traditional telenovelas, Escobar: El Patron del Mal deviates from the rosa format in a number of ways.
Escobar as the protagonist
While embodying the antithesis of telenovela's beloved knight in shining armor, Escobar fluctuates from a modern robin hood to an outright villain. Viewers are not necessarily preconditioned to feel one way or the other about Escobar, but rather develop an understanding of his integral role in Colombian history.
Throughout the telenovela, Escobar continues to defy stereotypes of the prototypical protagonist by way of his domineering persona and complete intolerance in regards to those who stand in the way of his success as one of the wealthiest criminals the world has ever seen. On the flip side, his character is not void of human sentiment, caring greatly for the well being of his close friends and family—that is, so long as they do as he says.
At the end of the day, the man we are left with is neither all good nor all bad. He’s conflicted yet determined. He’s traditional yet radical. He’s loving yet ruthless. Despite the fact that some may see Escobar as a walking, talking contradiction, others may consider his character to be far more relatable than the traditional rosa protagonist who although possesses a myriad of amiable qualities, lacks any semblance of relevance to life outside of the small screen.
History vs. Romance
The lack of a legitimate love triangle in Escobar: El Patron del Mal serves as yet another deviation from the traditional telenovela format. No doubt, there are romantic conflicts in the series, but they tend to take the backseat in light of the overriding theme of Escobar’s life as a drug lord.
The conflicts between Pablo and Patricia’s marriage do however provide some relief from the incessant violence and criminal activity. But even in the event that the love triangle hooks the audience, it is always in respect to the manner in which it will affect the bigger picture. This can probably be explained by the fact that most of the viewers know how the story ends and are generally more interested in learning about the legacy left behind by a man who, for better or for worse, is no longer here to tell the tale. In other words, there's no sense in holding out for a fairytale ending.
Other differing aspects of Escobar: El Patron del Mal from the rosa format include a diverse setting, more creative cinematography and ongoing depictions of historical events, some of which involving a great deal of violence. Of course there are similarities between Escobar: El Patron del Mal and traditional telenovelas, but overall I would venture to say that this particular series has provided a degree of innovation to the telenovela industry, which I hope see outside the realm of biopics in the future.