A Damn Good Show, If I May Say So

I enjoy this show, maybe you’ve heard of it? Boardwalk Empire, on HBO. Not bad. Not mind-blowing either. Just right.

It’s got a lot going on, lots of characters. Mainly gangsters and such. Prohibition. Corrupt politicians. Atlantic City. A borderline psychotic government agent who looks just like James Cagney.  Omar from The Wire shows up from time to time too, always dressed to the nines. Well, not Omar, but you know. The actor who played him. He’s really good.

Steve Buscemi plays the lead, Nucky Thompson, the “boss” of Atlantic City. He runs things. Michael Pitt’s in it too, he’s rather easy on the eyes, eh ladies (and gays)? But don’t worry! Paz de la Huerta is in this too, she’s pretty hot. See? Something for everyone!

Did you ever see A Serious Man? No? Great movie. Anyway, the lead actor there, Michael Stuhlbarg, remember him? He plays a Jewish gangster here, Arnold Rothstein. Great character. They’ve got a half-Jamaican actor from England playing a young Al Capone. He was in Snatch too. Anjelica Huston’s 20-something-year-old nephew does a star turn playing a disfigured WWI veteran. Lots of good acting here. Some of the characters have had a tendency to be a bit one sided, I must admit. But not all. This is my only gripe with the show. Not a lot of nuance sometimes. Still fun, though.

But what is it about, you say? What’s the story? It’s 1920, Prohibition’s in full force, gangsters are getting into the liquor business, politicians are gorging themselves on bribes. Atlantic City is becoming a major attraction, the Vegas of its day. You have your New York gangsters, your Chicago gangsters, your New Jersey gangsters, your Philly gangsters, all fighting with each other. So many! The show features many real-life criminal figures: Al Capone, Lucky Luciano, Arnold Rothstein, Meyer Lansky. Add a few interesting love triangles, casual mob violence, disfigured war veterans with mad sniping skills and you’ve got yourself a show. And Mark Wahlberg’s one of the producers, along with Martin Scorcese. Marky Mark!

You’ve got a wildly sprawling storyline here, okay? As of my last estimate, there are about two dozen major characters here. It’s all spread very thin. Many competing subplots, but it only serves to keep the show lively. You have a rather diverse cast here. Ethical gangsters, sadistic Christians, Blacks, Jews, Italians, Irish, Germans, WASPs, war veterans, dancing girls, naked ladies, pimps, gamblers, people getting shot in the head, the Women’s Temperance League, future President Warren Harding. Despite all the background noise, the show still manages to be somewhat engaging.  They go to Chicago, they go to New York, but it’s mostly set in Jersey. Gorgeous cinematography, though. Lots of period detail. Beautiful costuming. All in all, a good looking show.

I only know two other people who watch this show regularly. What can I say, it’s an elite club. I urge you to give it a try. It’s not bad.

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