Showmax has recently added one of the greatest HBO shows in recent memory to its library. If you love great television, superb acting and enjoy watching gangsters do their thing, watch Boardwalk Empire.
- What is it?
HBO hired Martin Scorsese and Terence Winter to create a new blockbuster for them, so they came up with a story about the original bootlegger Nucky Thompson who rode the wave of Prohibition. Five seasons later, Boardwalk Empire is the most epic gangster show since The Sopranos (which, coincidentally, Winter also created).
- I would like it if I like…
Bad people. Gangsters. Historical drama. More bad people. Boardwalk Empire is based on true events, though takes a lot of artistic license telling its tale. You will meet Nucky Thompson, the Atlantic City boss who ran the biggest alcohol smuggling operation of its time, in its wake creating the careers of Al Capone and Lucky Luciano, the man who formed the five mafia families of New York. Boardwalk Empire is a celebration of the antihero, a worthy peer to The Sopranos, Breaking Bad, House of Cards, Boss and even the complicated villains in Daredevil. It will remind you of every Martin Scorsese gangster movie, which is fitting seeing he made the show.
- Yeah, but what’s it about?
Steve Buscemi plays the role that breaks his typecast, leading as Nucky Thompson. I’m sure many thought this would be a bad idea, but instead turned out as a stroke of genius. You watch Boardwalk Empire to watch Nucky’s career unfold. He is suave, a gentleman and quite careful to remain civilized. He is also the most dangerous person in the game, moreso because his enemies never realize the can of worms they opened until he gets into action. But Thompson’s life is also complicated as he tries to seem like an upstanding citizen. He also has trouble holding onto people he can trust, which is to be expected when you’re the kingpin of a narcotics empire, creating a criminal worthy of comparison to Tony Soprano and Al Swearengen.
- Does it look good?
Boardwalk Empire looks fantastic. It used the largest sound stage set ever built for a production, met with incredible detail in the costumes and day-to-day touches. I personally think it (alongside with Deadwood) is the reason why shows such as Downton Abbey and Hell of Wheels went all-out for period authenticity. Usually shows this lavish collapse under their own weight, but Boardwalk Empire completed its five-season run without a hitch.
- And the actors? Anyone I know?
Obviously Steven Buscemi, who turns in the best role of his life and carries this show in ways you never thought him capable of. Let’s face it: Buscemi is often typecast as a high-strung weirdo, as seen in Reservoir Dogs, Fargo, Armageddon and Con Air. With Nucky Thompson he shows why he is one of the greater talents of his generation.
He is joined by a rotating roster of terrific stars: Kelly McDonald and Paz de la Huerta as Thompson’s love interests, Jack Huston as the tragic half-face war veteran turned assassin, Michael Shannon in the role that brought him to everyone’s attention as an overly zealous law agent, Michael Stuhlbarg as an incredibly dangerous New York kingpin, Daredevil‘s Charlie Cox as an Irish enforcer, Michael K. Williams (The Wire‘s Omar) as a pwerful black gangster, Vinyl‘s Bobby Cannavale as just a pure psycho, and there are cameos such as the always electric William Forsythe.
- Okay, so it’s pretty and well-acted. But why watch it?
Boardwalk Empire is a drama worthy of The Sopranos, Breaking Bad, The Wire, Deadwood or House of Cards and the others I have name-dropped. Yes, I keep lamenting the comparison, but this show deserves it. It matches the best of Martin Scorsese, be it Goodfellas, Casino, The Departed or Gangs of New York. It’s The Godfather of television. It’s a slow-burn, intelligent drama with enough crime to also make it a thriller.
If you consider yourself an aficionado of television’s current Golden Age, Boardwalk Empire has to be part of your viewing education.
And you can watch all 5 seasons of it on Showmax right now! Remember, you can also sign up for a 7-day FREE trial, which if you forgo some basic human amenities, would even be long enough to get thoroughly lost in the world of Boardwalk Empire.
Last Updated: April 21, 2016