Magazine article The Spectator

Television: James Delingpole

Magazine article The Spectator

Television: James Delingpole

Article excerpt

Gomorrah (Sky Atlantic, Monday), the new, must-see Mafioso series, started promisingly. We met two hoods -- one young, shaven-headed, good-looking; one weary, brow-beaten, middle-aged -- filling up at a petrol station in Naples, an unfamiliar (to me anyway) setting that looks promisingly like a cross between Vegas and downtown Gaza. Clearly they were up to no good.

Meanwhile, in a decrepit apartment block, an elderly mamma was preparing her beloved, twentysomething son a rather delicious-looking pasta dinner. She chastised him for smoking at the dinner table. The son tried explaining, to no avail, that this was an E-cigarette, not a real one. Mamma wasn't having it. She said grace and her nicely brought up if wayward boy crossed himself piously. (The old religion dies hard in Naples.)

Then, horror. The two hoods, it turned out, were on a mission to torch the apartment with the petrol they'd just picked up from the station. We rather hoped Mamma and her boy would survive. They didn't. The last we saw of them was mother and son, hugging one another tight in the running shower and praying as the paint on the walls of their bathroom blistered ominously.

Cut to the two hoods, in their petrol-smelling clothes, enjoying a celebratory drink with friends before retiring home. Both, it turned out, were loving parents of sweet children whom they kissed tenderly as they slept in their beds. Just another ordinary working day, Naples-Camorra-style.

Where Gomorrah differs from the Godfather trilogy, The Sopranos or Goodfellas is in its near-total absence of glamour or sentiment. At no point do you envy these people or imagine there is any hope for them. As the creator of the series, Roberto Saviano, told the Telegraph : 'If you watch it all the way through, the question you're left with at the end is: "But I thought these guys were supposed to have an amazing life?" The life they lead is crap. They live like rats in a trap.'

This is why Saviano can't live in Italy any more. Since publishing his book Gomorrah: Italy's Other Mafia , he has been living under police protection in New York after receiving death threats from two Camorra godfathers. Presumably, they would have preferred a version of events where they were shown regularly giving money to charidee and stroking cute white kittens in a non-sinister way. …

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