Inside the American Mob

 
(i)

 

Organized crime docuseries with bloody re-creations.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The series offers a mostly objective history of the Cosa Nostra and its deterioration since the 1970s thanks to the efforts of law enforcement. The organization isn't glorified, but its sophistication is noted.

Positive role models

Criminal acts were/are motivated by greed. Former mobsters sometimes appear proud of what they've done  --including murder and theft -- and/or find humor in it.

Violence

Former mobsters describe the violent acts they committed, including holding up banks at gunpoint, slicing a person's genitals, executing people, etc. Archival news footage sometimes contain bloody images of murder victims; reenactments often feature punching, knife fights, gunfire, and blood.

Sex

Men are sometimes shown in their boxer shorts. Prostitution is sometimes alluded to; archive footage sometimes shows women soliciting customers.

Language

Words like "piss" are audible. Words like "f--k" and "s--t" are bleeped.

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Wine, champagne, and hard alcohol consumption is visible during reenactments and in archival footage. Drug crimes are discussed. Cigarette and cigar smoking sometimes visible.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Inside the American Mob discusses the history of organized crime in America. Not surprisingly, it contains lots of mature themes (drugs, prostitution, corruption, etc.) and violent content, ranging from guns being shot during reenactments to descriptions of murders and bloody news footage of murder victims. There's some salty language and drinking during reenactments, too. Most of this is offered in an informative context, but it's not really meant for kids or geared towards younger teens.

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What's the story?

INSIDE THE AMERICAN MOB is a documentary series that offers insight into the complicated underworld of American organized crime, and the various ways law enforcement has gone about infiltrating it. With the help of interviews with former mobsters like Michael Franzese, undercover FBI agents like Joe Pistone, a.k.a. Donnie Brascoe, and law enforcement officials like former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, it explains how organized crime leaders from the infamous Genovese, Bonanno, Luchese, Gambino, and Colombo families -- known in the U.S. as the Cosa Nostra -- were able to collectively infiltrate reputable businesses and maintain its power. It also describes how the FBI and other agencies were able to change their tactics in order to take them down. Reenactments of key moments in the crime ring's history and and archival news footage is also featured.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Inside the American Mob reveals how the American mob, which was at its peak of power in the 1970s, went from being a group of localized Italian-American street gangs to a nationwide criminal organization involved in everything from labor unions and government agencies to prostitution and drugs. It also reveals some of the cultural dynamics of the organization, which has its own rituals, language, and a code of ethics by which its members are expected to live.

It contains a lot of fascinating details about the mob and the families who run it. But despite being offered within context, many of the narratives, which include stories about parents putting hits out on their children and the murder of friends, are extremely disturbing, especially when they are told with humor and/or with little regret by those who committed the crimes. Much of the featured archival footage is pretty bloody, too. Nonetheless, those interested in the topic will definitely find it worth watching.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the different ways the media portrays organized crime. How does the portrayal of the mob in films like The Godfather and TV shows like The Sopranos compare to what these organizations are really like?

  • Why is the mob a frequent subject in film and on TV? Is it the myths behind it? Its history? Is it appropriate to feature violent and/or illegal organizations like the mob in films and TV for the sake of entertainment?

TV details

Cast:Joe Pistone, Michael Franzese, Rudolph Giuliani
Network:National Geographic Channel
Genre:Reality TV
Topics:History
TV rating:TV-14
Available on:Streaming

This review of Inside the American Mob was written by

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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