AN EASY way to revive a flagging dinner party is to ask people to name their choice of the greatest crime show. Is it “The Wire”, with its intricate portrait of Baltimore’s underworld? Or “The Sopranos”? Or perhaps “Breaking Bad”? Now there is a new contender for the prize—“Gomorrah”, a drama about a collection of Italian gangs known as the Camorra that run a criminal empire from their base in Naples.

“Gomorrah” has been Italy’s most talked-about television series since its release two years ago. It has been sold in 50 countries and the first episode premiered on America’s Sundance TV this week. The series is far darker than the other three. The gangsters aren’t lovable monsters like Tony Soprano, just monsters. It is more realistic. The author of the book behind the series, Roberto Saviano, has been in hiding since the Camorra issued a death warrant against him in 2006. Filming of the series in gritty Neapolitan neighbourhoods was interrupted by local violence.

One of the most striking things about the Camorra is how good they are at business. They have taken over from the Sicilian Mafia as Italy’s foremost...Continue reading