Must See TV… Gomorrah

Based on the book and the subsequent film, this Neopolitan crime drama had me watching with baited breath back in 2014. 

Imagine if Shakespeare lived in modern day Naples and wrote about a crime family that had a power struggle at its heart. King Lear meets The Wire in Italy with texting and scooters, if you will. 

They’ve made us wait two whole years for the second season but it has finally returned to Sky Atlantic. Catch up with the first series on demand now.

The people – gone are the days of the good guys and the bad guys; there’s more shades of grey here than a billionaire sadist. No situation is black and white, the characters are beautifully manipulative. You think they can’t be that cruel (they can) or that kind (even creepier). I won’t give spoilers, but it’s a joy to watch the metamorphosis of Genny from spoilt chubster to terrifying wannabe mobster. There’s a real struggle between the new and old generations where gentlemanly conduct and deference to the ruling family gives way to disrespect from the younger clan members. Even Facebook gets a mention. 

The music – who knew Italian rap was such a good thing? Jokes aside, the music in this series is brilliant. If I remember correctly, there’s a hilarious scene with a car journey and the radio and two dangerous criminals having a sing song. Plus I’m now trained to have a Pavlovian reaction to the synth string music, knowing that something terrible is about to happen.   

The violence – as I type this, I’m watching a man being beaten to death with a snooker cue. A few episodes before someone had their throat sliced open. This is not the programme for you if you blanch at the sight of blood or violence. Revenge is a common card dealt in this series and it’s often brutal and relentless. Guns and bullets are a more common sight than wallets. 

The places – forget the glamorous Italy you’ve seen in other shows. This is not the Italy or Naples we see. Most of the action takes place in the huge housing estates. Delapidated and gritty, the streets are shared by the haves and have-nots, the only difference being the interiors varying from a Laurence Llewellyn-Bowen gilt nightmare to Spartan frugal modernism. The estates begin to resemble an illustration of Dante’s Inferno and the many circles of hell. 

The language – no, not necessarily bad language. The Neopolitan dialect has me all sorts of confused if I try to follow the action without reading the subtitles. It’s a sing-song for the ears. 

I can’t recommend Gomorrah enough. Don’t be a stronzo and watch it NOW!! 

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