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Queen of the South first aired in America in 2016, 14 years after book la Reina del Sur by author Arturo Pérez-Reverte was published. Fast forward to today and the USA Network series has become a worldwide hit, following the story of the novel as well as the telenovela which came out in 2011. While they all have the same basic plot, there are a few key differences between the Netflix drama and the original source.
WARNING: This article contains spoilers from Queen of the South.
How is Queen of the South different from book origins La Reina del Sur?
The first major difference between the series and the novel La Reina del Sur is its locations.
After Guero Davilas (played by Jon Ecker) is supposedly killed, in Queen of the South, Teresa Mendoza (Alice Braga) tries to flea from Mexico but is then captured by Camila Vargas’ (Veronica Falcon) men and taken to Dallas.
From then on, most of Queen of the South is based in America, with Teresa mos recently setting up shop in New Orleans.
But in the book La Reina del Sur, Teresa heads to the Spanish city of Melilla and it is here where she meets a man called Santiago Fisterra who is involved in trafficking drugs across the Strait of Gibraltar.
So the novel is actually based in Spain and it is here that Teresa carries out her journey to becoming a queenpin.
The other major difference for Queen of the South is the introduction of three of its biggest characters.
First off, Teresa’s best friend Brenda Parra (Justina Machado) is not in the book whatsoever.
Brenda was an entirely new character made for Queen of the South, thus why it was easier to kill her off as she had no connection to the origins of the story.
She wasn’t the only new personality brought to the American TV adaptation of La Reina del Sur.
While James Valdez (Peter Gadiot) may have a legion of fans, he was not in either La Reina del Sur the book or the telenovela.
His character was also made especially for Queen of the South and so it was probably easier for the creators to write him out of most of season four since he isn’t a fixture of the book.
Speaking to Fox 7 in 2016, actor Gadiot said: “I think it’s a really interesting opportunity actually, because obviously a lot of these characters have a different incarnation.
“Whether it’s inside someone’s mind as a reader of the book or whether it is the character in the telenovela and so with that comes benefits but also challenges.
“Some people already have ideas [for them] while with my character, no one has a predisposition so they’ll accept whatever I bring to the table.”
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Meanwhile, Camila was in the original book but she had a very minor part in the story.
She was the wife of cartel leader Don Epifanio (Joaquin de Almeida) but she didn’t have her own business and wasn’t the sassy, business-focused and ruthless woman viewers have come to know on Queen of the South.
Her part was far smaller in the novel but the creators of the USA Network drama decided to give her a bigger role, making her one of Teresa’s main rivals.
Executive producer David T Friendly talked about Falcon’s character the ATX Festival panel when the show first launched.
Friendly said: “[Having Camila as a villain] extends this notion of, this world you’re expecting to see men just battling men.
“And then suddenly there’s this incredible relationship which is Camila, who in a certain way, is a mentor to Teresa.
“But Teresa will rise above and Veronica [Falcon], I had never seen her work before and she came in and killed us in the auditions.
“We were in Dallas for another event and she came in the elevator with me and I said: ‘You’re not going to hurt me are you?’
“So she’s a very powerful actress and her part is a very important counterpart to Teresa.
“You’re not quite sure of where this relationship is going and it has quite a few layers to it.”
Queen of the South is available to watch on USA Network and Netflix.
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