A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Making of the Mob: New York combines documentary and drama to tell the history of the New York mob. It's entertaining and informative, but the dramatic reenactments range from being violently bloody to downright horrifying (extensive beatings, stabbings to the skull, torture, executions). There are some graphic newspaper photos and other records too. Prostitution, drug smuggling, and other illegal acts are discussed, and drinking (wine, hard liquor), cigarette and cigar smoking, and drug use are visible. The swearing is limited in some episodes ("s--t"). It's all offered in context, and the style of the show will appeal to folks who like gangster-themed entertainment, but the grittiness makes it less than ideal for younger viewers.
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What's the story?
Narrated by Ray Liotta, MAKING OF THE MOB: NEW YORK offers a dramatic look at the history of New York organized crime and its leaders. Actor portrayals tell the stories of how infamous mobsters such as Frank Costello (Anthony DiCarlo), Lucky Luciano (Rick Graff), Bugsy Siegel (Jonathan Stewart, Jr.), Meyer Lansky (Ian Bell), Al Capone (Umberto Celisano), and Vito Genovese (Craig Rivela) created crime families, rose through the ranks, and met their demise. In addition, historians, writers, NYC experts such as former New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani, and actors such as Joe Mantegna and Chazz Palminteri describe the political, economic, and social circumstances that allowed small gangs of thugs to grow into powerful networks of organized criminal operations. Former mob associates such as Sal Polisi share their insight about how the day-to-day operations work and the consequences mobsters face when things go wrong. Archived news reports and additional footage round out the tales. From bootlegging and drug smuggling to intense territorial disputes, the show paints a detailed and gritty picture of how New York organized crime has been able to create empires, affect wars, and control facets of city life.
Is it any good?
From Prohibition and the crash of the stock market in 1929 to more contemporary events seen on the evening news, the series uses gritty drama and documentary-style interviews to create an entertaining and informative history lesson about the way the modern mobster evolved from poverty among, and racism against, the thousands of immigrants who entered New York City at the turn of the 20th century. It also highlights the endless desire these gangsters had for money and power and many of the seemingly unrelated events that led to the expansion of the mob’s interests in various underground (and a few public) rackets.
It's extremely violent, but the actor portrayals add a romanticized quality to these accounts, many of which will leave you feeling impressed (rather than aghast) by the intelligent, well-designed plans mob bosses came up with to undermine the law (and take hits out on those who stood in their way). Meanwhile, some history buffs will take issue with how some of the facts get presented here. Nonetheless, enthusiasts of gangster-themed TV and films will enjoy it.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the mafia. Why are people interested in organized-crime stories, especially when it's about people doing bad things? Have media portrayals of the mob over the years make these characters more appealing? Is there a danger to presenting dangerous characters and illegal activities this way?
When the media tells stories about violent people or places, is it necessary to show so much violence? Can these tales be told effectively without it? Why?