One of 2017’s best new shows.
Mob TV is hard to get right. But when it’s done right, oh boy, it is good. The Sopranos, which ran from 1999-2007, set the benchmark extremely high – with its complex characters, spell-binding performances and divisive ending. Boardwalk Empire, starring Steve Buscemi, wasn’t far behind and Italian drama Gomorrah became an international hit in just two seasons in recent years.
That ignores the inevitable failures that never quite cracked the mainstream – take Netflix’s Lilyhammer and er, the short-lived Mob Doctor which ran for a mere 13 episodes. Both textbook examples of shows with cartoonish bosses, stereotypical goons and wack storylines.
So it’s with trepidation that Italian-language show, Suburra: Blood On Rome – Netflix’s latest foray into original programming arrives – though it turns out, there was no need for scepticism. Here’s why Suburra is heading on the path to mob-pantheon.
It’s got a unique plot
Let’s set the scene then. It’s 2008 and the mayor of Rome has just resigned for unknown reasons. A vacuum of power opens with a new government imminent, and all the suitors are lining up with some shady characters desperate to get their grubby hands on the power. This arrives at a time when a valuable piece of land just outside of Rome is being put up for sale by the Vatican. The government want it, the mob wants it and new small-time gangsters want their slice. It gets messy.
Meanwhile, three young crooks, Aureliano, Spadino and Lele stumble on a gift. A highly-placed Vatican official falls sick at a sex and drug-fuelled orgy – and there’s a video of his transgressions that he’ll do anything to stop from emerging. They’ve got the video and a blackmail campaign consumes. But why is the official so important? Well, he heads the committee that decides who to sell that all-important land to.