MAMMA’S DIARY – DIARIO DI MAMMA
For anyone just waking up to the phenomenon that is Gomorrah in Italy, here’s a quick rundown. The book Gomorrah, which was an investigative, first-hand look at Naples’ Camorra mafia, became a movie and the movie became a TV show. The book, movie, and TV show are hugely popular in Italy. People simply can’t get enough of this view of the intense, violent, and despicable life of those in the Italian mob. Now, SundanceTV is sharing the series with viewers in the United States every Wednesday night at 10 p.m. ET. The first season is well underway, and you can get recaps to catch up on what happened in the first six episodes right here on Italian Mamma. Without further ado, here’s what happened on the Sept. 14 showing:
Episodes 7 and 8
The real basket of deplorables are the characters in the TV series Gomorrah. First, Imma sent her son Gennaro to Honduras to kill or be killed and Ciro, her husband’s beloved henchman, to get lost in Spain. Both defied the odds and returned to Naples and Imma. Ciro, grateful to be alive, was keen on getting back his place in the top of the family, alongside Gennaro. But Imma had other ideas. She stepped on Ciro and had him running the new post for selling drugs, a job usually reserved for young boys. Gennaro, known as Genny to friends, returns a new man, more like a monster. This is a testament to the impeccable acting on this show. Sporting a new mohawk, the kid who vomited at the sight of someone else committing murder, walked in his mother’s house and killed her new dog, who had bitten him. When his mother got up to see what happened, he told her he should have killed her, too. Even his eyes were those of a murderer. It was terrifying.
Back at the shop, an apartment complex and park, replete with the Virgin Mary statue, the junkies are making too much noise and upsetting Ciro. His anxiety and disappointment is evident when he punches one of these guys and knocks him to the ground. The competition gets wind of this family taking over on their turf and begins to fight back. They burn a car. They chop off the head of the Virgin Mary statue. Imma replaces the statue and has it blessed by a priest in a ceremony that disrupts Ciro’s drug sales. This all began because Imma wanted a new cop-free zone to sell drugs. So, she scouts locations and finds a great spot but needs people to let her into their apartments, so she has a view of the park below. A lesbian, who dressed like a man most of the time and called herself Luca (a male name in Italian), approaches Imma and explains that her father’s bridal shop owed this guy $70,000, so her father had killed himself and now she was stuck with the debt. In exchange for Imma’s help with this guy (Imma kills him when he doesn’t rid of the debt), Luca lets Imma’s men sit on her porch. Then, the girl kills for Imma. She shoots two guys while they are watching a children’s soccer game. The people run away and leave the two men dead on the bleachers. Luca, while trying on a wedding dress in her father’s shop, is met by two men with rifles, who chase her into the butcher shop and murder her. The blood spills all over the white dress.
Now, the men – Ciro and company – want to retaliate and it’s looking more and more like a mafia war is coming. Many say that this would not be happening if Don Pietro wasn’t in jail. Imma silences them all. She tells Ciro he is going to do what she says, period. Then, she has them arrange a meeting with these competitors – anywhere they want to meet even on their turf – and she goes. Imma tells the men that her son, with his work in Honduras, is responsible for getting them good products at low costs and they are going to have to accept this family is in control now. And she tells them they are mistaken if they think because she’s a woman, she won’t kill. That’s the end of that problem.
In the meantime, Gennaro is a completely different person now. Why shouldn’t he be? He was holed up in a shack and forced to kill a person by chopping him up. He didn’t know if he’d live or die. Back in Napoli, he is downright cruel to Ciro, once his best friend and confidant. He has it out with his mother, who says she abandoned him in Honduras to make him stronger and turn him into the boss. He accepts and the two become partners in crime (literally) by the show’s end. The men have a meeting with Gennaro and without Imma at a restaurant. It was supposed to be his homecoming of sorts. The waiter knows Gennaro from school and is a little loud. He tells the story of how he used to call Genny the red pepper because he would turn red and was a little chubby. And he asked about getting another job because waiting tables since he’s been out of jail has been tough. Genny says they’ll talk later. After a few moments, Genny gets up and the men hear gunfire. He shot and killed the waiter. Then, he tells Ciro he has to clean up the mess and get rid of the body. At one point, he tells Ciro, it’s my turn now. My father is gone, and I’m the boss. Gennaro also gets his buddy who we’ve seen partying with him in the club and is a City Council member, to run agains the mayor. Note that Gennaro declines to snort cocaine, which is an indication that he is more serious about business Now, the current mayor is a friend of Gennaro’s father and has always been on the family’s side. But Gennaro wants to show who’s in charge now. He gets all the guys to help him rig the ballot box on Election Day. And he uses force to sway voters. He even goes so far as to break the glass table of the current mayor.
Most disturbingly, he starts a romantic relationship with the daughter of a doctor, who is on the city council and doesn’t want to give his votes to this new opposition to the mayor and wants no part of the mafia. He has sex with her on numerous occasions, and she seems to really be interested in him. He strong-arms the doctor and agrees to quit dating his daughter if he hands over the votes, which he does, of course. Gennaro holds his end of the bargain but not before sleeping with her and telling her father in great detail about it. Disgusting. Disgraceful. Deplorable.
There were a couple of things worth noting in the episode. When preparing the park for selling drugs, the men are polite to the tenants of the apartment complex and help the elderly and women with children to cross the street and get through the construction zone. At another point in the episode, one of the henchmen tells Gennaro that, yes, they have to make money but everyone in town has to eat. You get the sense that some of them think they are doing good for their community by being these kinds of criminals. That might be why Italy has had such a hard time getting rid of these gangsters.
Also, I took note of how the drug dealers often hid behind saints while running from the competition or cops. The symbolism of Italy hiding behind its religion, and the Virgin Mary getting beheaded was not lost on me. The whole insight into the corrupt political system combined with these other messages are difficult to watch. The truth really does hurt.