Sometimes reality really is stranger than fiction.
That’s certainly the case for a new true-crime series, Killer Ratings, that unpacks the life and times of Wallace Souza, a top-rated TV host in Brazil.
The real story lies in Souza’s hands-on approach to nailing the incredible ratings that kept his career on the up and up.
The Daily Beast reports that the story would be barely believable as a “tawdry B-movie, much less reality”, if it wasn’t for the irrefutable evidence that it actually happened.
Killer Ratings concerns Wallace Souza, a lifelong resident of Manaus, the capital city of Brazil’s northern state of Amazonas. Compelled to combat his home’s burgeoning drug trade, Souza became a cop before segueing, in 1989, into his most famous role as the television host of Canal Livre, a hugely popular, totally wild investigative journalism program in which he (often alongside his brothers, as well as a puppet) went after criminals both verbally and literally, joining police on raids and to crime scenes, all of which was depicted on-air.
Canal Livre did so well that it turned Souza into a celebrity crusader and launched his political career.
In 1998, he was elected to the state legislative assembly, a seat he’d win twice more, in increasingly dominant fashion, in 2002 and 2006. As his Canal Livre director Vanessa Lima states, he was “the defender of the people” and “a hero in people’s eyes,” the man who bravely and uncompromisingly stood up to murderers, kidnappers, traffickers and unscrupulous powers-that-be, no matter the personal risks.
Until – and here’s where it gets interesting – he was accused of orchestrating assassinations to boost his ratings.
Killer Ratings is the portrait of a beloved champion of the poor and downtrodden who was accused of being the very thing he railed against: a drug-trafficking kingpin; and moreover, a kingpin who orchestrated hits in order to eliminate competition and expand his empire, as well as to provide great, sensationalistic fodder for his own social justice TV show.
Let’s check out the trailer:
Creepy dude. And he gets creepier.
As if murder, drug-running and pedophilia weren’t enough of a draw, Killer Ratings also culminates with impeachment hearings, a threat to a judge’s life, and security-cam footage of a massive 2017 prison riot—full of beheadings and dismemberments—that’s described by one official as “a moment of unprecedented barbarism.”
The takeaway here is that in an environment where corruption reigns supreme, everyone’s motives should be questioned.
Killer Ratings is streaming now.
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