Suburra

The leader of the Roman mob, nick-named  Samurai, is organizing a land deal with the Sicilian mafia to do something or other, which requires him to make special side deals with local gangs, the Roman city government, and the Vatican.  Three low-lifes, not nearly as smart as they think they are but very audacious, get wind of the deal and decide they can outwit the big guys.  Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than smart.

The people behind this program are clearly familiar with the best American crime shows — the Sopranos, Breaking Bad, and The Wire — and incorporate some of the best features of each, adding just enough humor and some uniquely Roman touches.  The Vatican is depicted as an outfit which with long experience operating in the gray zone between legal and extra-legal Roman power brokers.  The head Roman mobster is a version of Tony Soprano who actually loves his mother. The formerly straight-arrow Roman bureaucrat breaks bad lusting after a fancy pair of shoes.  And the almost comically inept plotters sure know their pasta. And that’s not even mentioning the strong female supporting characters.  The ending may be predictable, but the journey sure is fun.

Note — this review covers Suburra the TV series.  There’s also a movie of the same name (which I have not seen), to which the TV series is a prequel.  (In Italian with English subtitles.)

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