The second season of the HBO crime drama Boardwalk Empire began last Sunday much to my delight.
Featuring Steve Buscemi as Enoch “Nucky” Thompson, a depiction of political figure Enoch Johnson, the show depicts the lives of a number of people in prohibition era Atlantic City, N.J.
Part fiction and partially based on history, the show’s characters include gangsters Al Capone, Arnold Rothstein, Charles “Lucky” Luciano and Meyer Lanksy as well.
What is it about mobster movies and dramas that fascinates people so much? HBO had another hit on its hands with The Sopranos, which was about a New Jersey mob family in the present.
Much like Seinfeld, I’ll watch The Godfather, Goodfellas, Donnie Brasco and The Departed when those movies are on television, even though I’ve seen the four movies an estimated 200 times combined.
Most people are law-abiding citizens who live normal lives – they work, they go home, have dinner and relax and the drama in their lives probably wouldn’t warrant material for a television series or movie treatment.
Criminals on the other hand, have fascinating lives to say the least, especially if they are involved in a gang or are a part of organized crime.
When viewing life through the eyes of Goodfellas’ Henry Hill, the title character in Donnie Brasco or the other mob-related criminals in other such shows and movies, people get to see a different side of life that many (hopefully) will never see.
These characters live outside of the confines of what is classified as ordinary life and it is mesmerizing.
They make decisions and take risks, which could lead to bloodshed and in some cases, the loss of life, even their own.
In many instances, their lives are glamorous as well. They wear fancy clothes, drive or are driven around in fancy cars and they wield power and that makes for interesting viewing.
Besides, people probably wouldn’t be interested in the mundane lives of the average citizen, at least in terms of crime dramas – there are examples of normal people lives’ in situation comedies.
I live an average life and there won’t be any HBO dramas about me but that doesn’t bother me.