Netflix is about to drop a new true crime documentary based on the Italian American Mafia with an extensive history in the US.
Fear City: New York vs. The Mafia explores the lives and crimes of five mob families in The Big Apple, who ruled with a “bloody fist” in the 1970s and 1980s.
Considering the extensive rule these families had across every borough (and even further afield), it was a big ask for the law enforcement to take them on – but that’s just what Rudy Giuliani and his team did.
Here’s everything you need to know about Fear City: New York vs. The Mafia, landing on Netflix in July.
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When is Fear City: New York vs The Mafia released?
There’s good news for true crime fans as Netflix’s latest offering, Fear City: New York vs. The Mafia, will land on Wednesday 22nd July.
The series, which was made by the Don’t F*** With Cats team, will consist of three episodes.
So far, there are no plans for any more episodes, but we’ll keep this page updated with any further information.
As for the series, our Fear City review said it was more than just a real life version of The Wire.
What is Fear City: New York vs The Mafia about?
The new Netflix series follows The Five Families of New York, who came to power in the 1930s, but ruled “Fear City” in the 1970s and 1980s – and there’s a lot you need to know that happened before Fear City.
They initially claimed power in the 1920s Prohibition period, it wasn’t until the 1930s they were brought together in The Commission by Charles Luciano. The “board of directors” was brought in to oversee all Mafia activity within the US, and consisted of the heads of the Bonnano, Colombo, Gambino, Genovese, Lucchese families (The Five Families), as well as Chicago’s Al Capone and Buffalo family head, Stefano Magaddino.
Luciano was appointed chairman and thus The Five Families took joint ownership of New York and its surrounding areas.
They had enormous power across the state and headed up illegal drug trades and organised crime, but as their grip tightened in the 1980s, the FBI decided it was time to take them down – all five families at once.
According to Fear City director Sam Hobkinson, New York was a dangerous place to be in the 70s and 80s, when he was growing up there. “You wouldn’t go there, because everyone said it was too dangerous – and for that reason, it was exotic,” he told Rolling Stone.
Hobkinson continued: “This is an opportunity to tell a panoramic tale of New York, from the wiseguys on the streets all the way up to the lawmakers in City Hall, at this most dramatic point in its history.”
Is there a trailer for Fear City: New York vs The Mafia?
There sure is, and it looks incredibly interesting – and a little bizarre.
Who are The Five Families?
The Five Families who ruled over New York City were also members of The Commission. They were as follows:
Bonanno (formally Maranzano)
The Bonanno family was named after Joe Bonanno. They operate largely in Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and Long Island. They also have influence across Manhattan, The Bronx, and many more.
Colombo (formally Profaci)
The Colombo family was named after Joseph Colombo. They operate in Brooklyn, Queens and Long Island, but also have influence in Staten Island, Manhattan, and Florida, among others.
Gambino (formally Mangano)
The Gambino family, which operates in Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, Staten Island and Long Island was named after Carlo Gambino. They also have links in Los Angeles, Michigan, Florida and others.
Genovese (formally Luciano)
The Genovese family was named after Vito Genovese, and they operate mainly in Manhattan, The Bronx, Brooklyn, and New Jersey – they also have influence in Westchester County, Connecticut and Massachusetts, among others.
Lucchese (formally Gagliano)
The Lucchese family is named after Tommy Lucchese. They operate in The Bronx, Manhattan, Brooklyn and New Jersey. They also operate in Westchester County and Florida, among others.
Fear City: New York vs. The Mafia – FBI archive photograph (NETFLIX)
The Five Families in pop culture
Most of what you’ve just read will probably sound quite familiar – that’s because it has been discussed in a lot of different types of pop culture.
Mario Puzo’s The Godfather from 1969 (which you can find on Amazon now), uses The Five Families as inspiration. In Puzo’s novel, the Barzinis, Corleones, Cuneos, Straccis and Tattaglias have control. That’s the same in the films, too, which are available to buy on Amazon.
HBO’s Boardwalk Empire portrays the life and rise of Charles Luciano (played by Vincent Piazza) to power – he was the figure who set up The Commission. Throughout the series, we see him betray fellow mobsters, Joe Masseria and Salvatore Maranzano. You can buy the series on Amazon now.
The Sopranos, Analyze This and Grand Theft Auto IV also use the Mafia’s true story for inspiration.