‘Gomorrah’ Sundance: Why Italy’s Most Popular Show Is The Best Show Of 2016

With its realism, gritty filming, and taut storyline, Gomorrah on Sundance is, perhaps, one of the best shows to hit the television airwaves in a long time, and certainly one of the best shows in 2016. Italy’s most popular television show has only recently been imported to the United States, and it’s based on the Neapolitan crime syndicate, La Camorra (note the play on words), that is just as brutal as its Sicilian Mafia counterpart.

But don’t compare Gomorrah on Sundance to any show — or movie — that you’ve seen before. This is nothing like The Godfather, and it’s certainly nothing like The Sopranos. Vulture put it best when it said that the show eschews traditional movie tricks like montages, flashbacks, and stylized shots. Rather, Gomorrah prefers to stick to handheld shots, plays out each scene of the show in a languorous fashion, and refuses to use any sort of soundtrack-style music (except for in the places where the scene calls for it, such as in the nightclub). The result is a documentary-style feel, one where the viewer feels as though s/he is “really there” with the soldiers and the bosses of the Neapolitan crime family.

‘Gomorrah’ on Sundance is based on a true story written by Roberto Saviano. [Image via Sundance TV]
And this “really there” sentiment is what makes Gomorrah on Sundance absolutely true to form because, according to The Guardian, the show is based on the book of the same name by Roberto Saviano. Back in Italy, Saviano was able to successfully infiltrate La Camorra, and has been harassed by its members ever since. Saviano correctly showed that La Camorra — unlike the Sicilian Mafia — has a horizontal, rather than a vertical, structure. In other words, in the Sicilian Mafia, there is but one capo (head), and the others beneath him have military-style ranks. In La Camorra, on the other hand, different regions have different “bosses,” causing turf wars and internal feuding — and this is actually the first concept we’re treated to when the first episode of the show opens up. Pietro Savastano, the presumptive “boss” of one region of Naples, sends a message to Salvatore Conte, another “boss” of another region of Naples, by setting his mother’s apartment on fire while the family is enjoying a Sunday dinner (which is sacred in the Italian world).

And those aren’t the only problems that Savastano is facing: his son, and heir to the throne, is ineffectual and temperamental. His soldiers are ratting on him to the police. And his wife is more concerned about the new couch than she is about the family business (which, incidentally, is another major difference between the Sicilian Mafia and La Camorra — while Sicilians forbid “the women” from getting involved in La Cosa Nostra, women can hold just as much rank as men in La Camorra).

‘Gomorrah’ on Sundance stars Fortunato Cerlino and Maria Pia Calzone. [Image via Sundance TV]
In fact, according to The New York Times, Gomorrah on Sundance is better compared to The Wire than to The Sopranos. While there is certainly a traditional “organized crime melodrama” sentiment to it — there are, after all, genuine clan and family dynamics in which to work, after all — the stark realism of the crimes committed is what sets the show apart from its predecessors. And though the second season has already been shown in Europe, with promises of more episodes in the coming months on American shores, the first season is the perfect thing to draw you into this dark, oftentimes misunderstood, world.

Gomorrah on Sundance airs every Wednesday night at 10 p.m., EST. We will keep you posted on all the latest episodes of Gomorrah on Sundance as they air.

[Image via Sundance TV]

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