In the realm of Italian mafia dramas, Gomorrah, The Boss of the Bosses, and Romanzo Criminale are worthy of note, but among all, The Godfather Trilogy stands out as a timeless masterpiece. Although not even close to The Godfather in terms of execution or writing, a similarly woven tale of Italian gang warfare and power battles among the clans in a tumultuous Rome is the famous Italian series Suburra. Suburra is a famous crime franchise first released in 2015 as a film and subsequently developed into a 2017 series of the same name. From 2017 to 2020, Suburra: Blood on Rome became a popular thriller that has recently been rebooted into a Netflix series named Suburraeterna. As we haven’t watched any of these prequels to this Netflix thriller, we can only review the recently released eight-part series, which is the continuation as well as a spinoff of the 2017 franchise.
Watching the entire eight-part Netflix series without having any idea about the previous storyline or the journey of the characters can be a little lackluster. At times, it even felt like the makers made a huge mistake by not clarifying most of the details regarding these characters. To dive into a story and connect with its characters, we need to know their backstories, past troubles, and conflicts, but in this series, the scriptwriting didn’t have the potential to satisfy that hunger. International and fresh viewers of the series like me who are not familiar with the prequels will not be able to understand the character arcs properly. However, the major conflict of the story and the purpose the characters were fighting for are easily understandable. The storyline of the show features nothing but constant power battles among various mafia clans in Rome. Even though we aren’t sure about the backstory of these characters in the 2023 Netflix series, we can say with utmost certainty that they are pretty well written. These important characters in Suburraeterna Season 1 have their own dilemmas, which have been discussed and explored throughout the eight episodes.
Directed by Ciro D’Emilio and Alessandro Tonda, Suburraeterna revolves around some mafia clans in Rome, which were in shambles due to the ongoing power battle among them. Roman citizens were protesting against the anarchy on the streets, while there was a constant power struggle between the priests in the church as well as among the government officials who were backed by mafia leaders. The Lucianis and the Anacletis were the two most important rival gangs who were after each other’s lives. During the predicament in Rome, the Anacletis rose to power and came to be in charge. Damiano, who was from the Lucianis, got married to Angelica and became a family member of the Anacletis. But the story took a turn when Angelica turned against her clan and betrayed the Anacletis by joining hands with the Lucianis. The major conflict of the story starts with the betrayal among the clans as well as the conflicts between the government officials who began to target each other in this game of survival.
Suburraeterna has multi-layered storytelling with these key characters, who are worth discussing. Spadino’s character is beautifully portrayed by Giacomo Ferrara, who is torn between taking revenge for his mother’s death and making his own decisions in life. Spadino was tortured and misinterpreted by his family, so for the time being, the man struggled to make any important decisions by himself. The series brings to light the internal conflicts in his character, showcasing the future actions he might take to contribute to this ongoing warfare. Apart from Giacomo Ferrara’s Spadino, there are some old and new interesting characters introduced in the Netflix series. We are not certain about the previous developments in the prequels, but the Netflix series focuses on generational differences and diverse ideologies by highlighting the struggle of the emerging leaders of the clans. This kind of development and the interesting characters may attract a large audience to invest their time in the series.
However, the execution-style is nothing new or surprising. As usual, it felt like tired storytelling by the end, which is a very common aspect of this kind of action drama. Speaking of cinematography and sound design, there is nothing extraordinary in Suburraeterna that we can really talk about. Overall, it feels like, due to the immense success of the prequels, the makers of the Italian series were inspired to come up with a spinoff, but they never tried to work hard on it to make it a unique experience. By the end of Suburraeterna Season 1, the storytelling seemed predictable as well as monotonous. However, Suburraeterna is not a waste of time at all. It is an extremely organized and well-written drama, but the lack of backstory for the characters sometimes makes the characters and the entire narrative a little elusive. Despite that, the major conflict as well as the dilemmas of the characters are palpable and appealing. Filled with nuanced exploration and complicated family dynamics, this show can be an enticing watch. However, in comparison to other Italian mafia series, Suburraeterna may not stand out as a unique one.
As someone who hasn’t watched any of the prequels, I cannot really comment on the previous installments of the Italian series or compare the 2023 Netflix release to them. So, it’d be better to leave it up to the audience, who might already be fans of the previous parts of the franchise. We’re not sure if Netflix is set to release the second season of Suburraeterna, but given the success of the franchise, we may anticipate the renewal of the series, where a lot of queries will be answered. Until then, let Suburraeterna take some time to reach a huge audience and finally make a place in their hearts.