I’m late to Griselda, a big series about a lady drug lord — “a godmother” — who ran Miami in the 1970s. I wasn’t initially interested: Netflix is such a true crime swamp nowadays. It’s the only television to give you a physical hangover. But it’s a viral hit and I’m nothing if not professional, so I caved in.

To say this was a rollicking, big-titted roller coaster is to understate the sheer number of brazen clichés they merrily, wonderfully, shamelessly flung our way, in place of anything approaching a moral lesson, believable character arc or plot. Every South American actor for miles, including Sofía Vergara, had simply been rounded up, covered in oil and poured, naked, into the costumes they used for Boogie Nights, and was made to rasp lines such as “Once a whore, always a whore” and “We’re gonna run this town now”.

Sofía Vergara underwent a radical makeover, complete with fake little stained teeth stubs, for the role.

A sample scene (no, wait, every scene) began with Griselda, or as everyone cooed, “Gressellllltha”, gussied up in mink/silk/satin, hussying her way, Mob-wife style, through some fall-of-Saigon-type faceless disco to the VIP area, while the punters — anonymous, glistening Miamians, from whom we otherwise never heard — openly consumed her “product”, smuggled in from her hometown, Medellín in Colombia, whence she’d just fled, having murdered her husband.

Every South American actor for miles had simply been rounded up, covered in oil and poured, naked, into the costumes they used for Boogie Nights.

At the end of each scene Griselda would take some coke, then either threaten someone with a gold-plated Uzi (“The party went to shit after you forced the guests to f*** at gunpoint”) or telephone an accomplice, who would talk to her about “dreams” while playing with a scorpion.

For the absolutely shameless purpose of hooking a female audience, the life of Griselda Blanco is, initially at least, presented as an inspiration to women.

What did I think? I didn’t know what to think. Part of me felt for the actors. Listening to some incredibly respected Colombian film actor, baled up in Versace’s underpants, saying, “There are three things I dream of: wet, hairy pussy, one day riding on an elephant, and”, gesturing to an aircraft hangar full of cocaine, “this”, I thought: who is writing this stuff? Riding on an elephant? How long had it taken for them to throw it together? Eight days? I looked up the actor: he read philosophy at Colombia’s top university. I couldn’t stop laughing.

Griselda is played by Vergara, one of the planet’s most beautiful actresses. Don’t look up the original Griselda. The actress doesn’t look like her at all. One picture I found is, OK, a mug shot after Griselda had spent 12 years in prison, but she looked awful: a flabby, flat-faced currant bun with a triple chin and scraped-back nana hair: Rosie O’Donnell after a boil wash. Truly she wore her evil on the outside.

During her years controlling Miami’s underworld, in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Griselda pocketed billions of dollars before being convicted of three murders.

She was so unlike Vergara that they’ve had to give the Colombian beauty a radical makeover, placing, it seems, an entire cuff of Elephant Man latex over her head. As a result Vergara looks a bit like a puppet, complete with fake little stained teeth stubs. Still beautiful, of course, but narrow your eyes and it’s as if Bo’ Selecta! had done Catherine Zeta-Jones. It’s distracting.

The physical makeover, though, is nothing on the new personality they have given her. You thought a Colombian drug lady operating out of Miami might be a horrific moral vacuum — a psychotic, awful cow? Wrong. For the absolutely shameless purpose of hooking a female audience, Griselda is, initially at least, presented as an inspiration to women. Her life is reworked as heartwarming feminist success story. “I worked my ass off to bring that coke here,” she’ll shout. For three episodes it felt like another biopic of that Miracle Mop woman. I began to wonder: does this show even think coke is a bad thing, if it’s so thrilled some woman is getting $80 million a month? Are we … meant to root for her?

Paulina Dávila as Isabel, Griselda’s friend from Colombia who ends up working for the “godmother of cocaine.”

When she wasn’t reminding us what a hardworking, incredible businesswoman she was, she was giving pep talks to her goons, who were, at various times, either Cuban illegals or Colombian prostitutes. “You are the best saleswomen in the world,” she shrieks, before throwing money at them, or, in one case, a new set of scales. “Think like that and you’ll get a mink,” she screams.

Vergara seems to be having the time of her life playing her, strutting about like Fidel Castro, camera never straying from tit height: at the end of every early scene you’re left thinking, can she make it? Will her determination, grit and honest drive win out to make her the best drug dealer in Miami? It is a strange series of The Apprentice.

Camilla Long is a columnist and television critic for The Sunday Times