It’s sensationalist, it’s wicked and it’s audacious — this is the right way to unravel a crime story embedded in New York’s history.
Netflix documentary series Fear City: New York vs The Mafia will be out on the platform on July 22, 2020.
At Ready Steady Cut, we recapped every episode — check out the archive of recaps.
You see it in films, you see it on TV, and you hear about it in the vast vacuum of crime podcasts. It’s hard to imagine New York being fragmented by the mob, relaying control to the likes of The Dark Knight Trilogy. But it is no fairy tale, regardless of the Rotten Tomato score of Gotti. It happened. New York was dismantled by the golden era of the Five Families in the 70s and 80s — a Mafia that controlled the city more than the city itself. The FBI was confuzzled, unable to grasp what to do. Netflix brings limited series Fear City: New York vs The Mafia that intriguingly breaks down the downfall of the mob in three corresponding chapters.
Netflix enjoys a crime documentary series but this highly anticipated series has caught the imagination of many viewers — brought to us by the same producers of Don’t F**k With Cats, there was an expectation to bring the archive footage to life and unfold an inside story where the FBI patiently plotted to save the city from unanswerable violence.
And it does not let audiences down. Fear City: New York vs The Mafia only slightly feels like a documentary series, with each chapter showing a linear timeline, building up the tension to the grand finale. It manages to capture the essence of the time, with key players returning to be interviewed and a sense of pride for the story. It’s sensationalist, it’s wicked and it’s audacious — this is the right way to unravel a crime story embedded in New York’s history.
The archival footage and the editing brings the story to life. It’s surprising how seamlessly the documentary series manages to bring a window of perspective, encouraging the viewers to understand how the FBI or the Mafia did not have the technology we are granted today. The Netflix series presents an “on-foot” war that was precipitated on the notion that one wrong foot within the justice system meant 30-years of hard work would be lost. Fear City: New York vs The Mafia highlights a true stain of the city and one that needed bleaching out.
Three chapters are respectable and the thorough work that has gone into providing as much information as possible is appreciated. But at the same time, Fear City: New York vs The Mafia does not antagonize viewers with sequences of information overload — the producers chose entertainment as the overriding factor, which can only work when we are dealing with movie-like crime bosses that repeat the word f*ck in any sentence possible. Yes, this Netflix series is thoroughly recommended.