Making Men in Gomorrah 1 and Gomorrah 2

  • Dana RengaEmail author


This chapter focuses on Gomorrah 1 (2014) and Gomorrah 2 (2016) and addresses how male characters are constructed in exceedingly sympathetic and positive terms while committing atrocious and merciless acts, which is not the case for most of the women in positions of power in the program. Principal protagonists commit ugly offenses that, paradoxically, aid in constructing the appeal of the antiheroes. The chapter considers how power is primarily aligned with powerful male bodies, and, as protagonists’ bodies transform—through aging and affliction, through buffing up—power and charisma shift between men. This chapter investigates the gender power dynamics at work in the series’ first two seasons and pays attention to how women and men are made (and undone) in the eyes of the viewer.


  1. Allum, Felia. 2007. “Doing It for Themselves or Standing in for Their Men? Women in the Neapolitan Camorra (1950–2003).” In Women and the Mafia: Studies in Organized Crime, edited by Giovanni Fiandaca, 9–17. New York: Springer-Verlag.Google Scholar
  2. Antonello, Pierpaolo. 2016. “1.7: A ‘Storia e’ Maria: Gender Power Dynamics and Genre Normalization (‘Imma contro tutti’, Francesca Comencini).” The Italianist 36 (2): 322–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Barigozzi, Adelaide. 2016. “Gomorra 2: ecco 11 cose da sapere su Genny Savastano.” June 13. Accessed November 15.
  4. Bergman, S. Bear. 2009. “Sometimes I’m Fat, and Sometimes I’m Not.” In The Fat Studies Reader, edited by Esther Rothblum and Sondra Solovay, 139–42. New York and London: New York University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Boni, Marta. 2014. Romanzo Criminale: Transmedia and Beyond. Venice: Edizioni Ca’ Foscari.Google Scholar
  6. Bouson, J. Brooks. 2016. Shame and the Aging Woman: Confronting and Resisting Agism in Contemporary Women’s Writings. Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Butler, Judith. 1993. Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of “Sex”. New York and London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  8. Butler, Judith. 2013. “Performative Acts and Gender Constitution: An Essay in Phenomenology and Feminist Theory.” In Feminist Theory Reader: Local and Global Perspectives, edited by Carole R. McCann and Seung-kyung Kim, 462–73. Oxon and New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  9. Buttitta, Alessandro. 2014. “Salvatore Esposito, Genny di Gomorra: ‘Seconda stagione? Forse. A Napoli certe critiche sono strumentali.’” L’Huffington Post, June 21. Accessed July 9, 2015.
  10. Buttitta, Alessandro. 2016. “Gomorra 2: martedì 10 maggio la prima puntata su Sky. 10 motivi per cui non riuscerete a resistere alla seconda stagione.” L’Huffington Post, May 9. Accessed September 9.
  11. Capozzelli, Miriana. 2016. “Il fenomeno gomorra.” Ua-Time, November 1. Accessed November 1.
  12. Carotenuto, Claudia. 2016. “Fenomeno Gomorra: arriva negli USA e la critica impazzisce.” L’ulitma ribattuta, August 22. Accessed November 1.
  13. Casiraghi, Claudia. 2016. “Gomorra 2, Cristina Donadio: ‘Scianel? Una post post-feminista.’”Vanity Fair, June 16. Accessed November 5.
  14. Corriere del Mezzogiorno. 2016. “Denize Capezza ‘Marinella’: ‘Gomorra non ha eroi fanno tutti una brutta fine.’” Corriere del Mezzogiorno, June 15. Accessed November 3.
  15. De Pascalis, Ilaria A. 2018. “An Italian Ecosystem: Gomorra.” In Reading Contemporary Serial Television Universes: A Narrative Ecosystem Approach, edited by Paola Brembilla and Ilaria A. De Pascalis, 113–27. New York and London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  16. DeMello, Margo. 2014. Body Studies: An Introduction. London and New York: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. di Bianco, Laura. 2016. “1.5: Donna Imma’s ‘Dream of Domination’ (‘Il ruggito della leonessa’, Francesca Comencini).” The Italianist 36 (2): 312–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Doane, Mary Ann. 1988–1989. “Masquerade Reconsidered: Further Thoughts on the Female Spectator.” Discourse 11 (1): 42–54.Google Scholar
  19. Dyer, Richard. 2015. Lethal Repetition: Serial Killing in European Cinema. London: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Erbaggio, Pierluigi. 2015. “#GomorraLaSerie: Converging Audience and Enhanced Authorship on Twenty-First-Century Italian Screens.” Modern Italy 20 (4): 335–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Esch, Kevin. 2006. “‘I Don’t See Any Method At All’: The Problem of Actorly Transformation.” Journal of Film and Video 58 (1–2): 95–107.Google Scholar
  22. Farmer, Brett. 2000. Spectacular Passions: Cinema, Fantasy, Gay Male Spectatorships. Durham: Duke University Press.Google Scholar
  23. Feasey, Rebecca. 2011. “Mature Masculinity and the Aging Action Hero.” Groniek 190: 507–19.Google Scholar
  24. Frasca, Damiano. 2008. “Matteo Garrone – ‘Gomorra.’” Allegoria, 59. Accessed November 7, 2016.
  25. Fusco, Fabio. 2016. “Gomorra 2: Scianel, tutto sulla performance con il vibratore d’oro.”, June 8. Accessed November 4.
  26. García, Alberto N. 2016. “Moral Emotions, Antiheroes and the Limits of Allegiance.” In Emotions in Contemporary TV Series, edited by Alberto N. García, 52–70. Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Gilman, Sander L. 2004. Fat Boys: A Slim Book. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.Google Scholar
  28. Gilman, Sander L. 2015. Illness and Image: Case Studies in the Medical Humanities. New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers.Google Scholar
  29. Goodman, Tim. 2016. “Gomorra: TV Review.” The Hollywood Reporter, August 18. Accessed November 4.
  30. Greene, Shelleen. 2012. Equivocal Subjects: Between Italy and Africa—Constructions of Racial and National Identity in the Italian Cinema. New York and London: Continuum International Publishing Group.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Grey, Tobias. 2008. “Nonprofessional Actors Give European Films a New Realism.” The Wall Street Journal, November 7. Accessed July 9, 2015.
  32. Gross, Stephanie Stringer. 2015. “Machiavellian Men: How Walter White Learns ‘Not to Be Good.’” In Masculinites in Breaking Bad: Critical Perspectives, edited by Bridget Roussell Cowlishaw, 110–31. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company.Google Scholar
  33. Iannone, Pasquale. 2014. “Gomorrah Never Dies.” Sight and Sound 24 (9): 11.Google Scholar
  34. King, Jeannette. 2013. Discourses of Ageing in Fiction and Feminism: The Invisible Woman. Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  35. Krutnik, Frank. 1991. In a Lonely Street: Film Noir, Genre, Masculinity. New York and London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  36. Kunze, Peter C. 2013. “Send in the Clowns: Extraordinary Male Protagonists in Contemporary American Fiction.” Fat Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Body Weight and Society 2 (1): 17–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Lai, Manuel. 2016. “Gomorra 2: Scianel, il vibratore e le inutili polemiche.” Melty, June 10. Accessed November 5.
  38. Latilla, Antonella. 2016. “Salvatore Esposito svela: l’amore per Paola e novità su Gomorra 2.” Gossip e tv, August 22. Accessed November 15.
  39. Lombardi, Giancarlo. 2016. “1.1: Of Generational Clash and Sympathy for the Renegade (‘Il Clan dei Savastano’, Stefano Sollima).” The Italianist 36 (2): 293–98.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Lombardi, Giancarlo. Forthcoming. “Sympathy for the Renegade: Defining Spectatorial Empathy in Gomorra: La Serie.” In Mafia Movies: A Reader, 2nd ed., edited by Dana Renga, 2nd ed. Toronto, Buffalo and London: The University of Toronto Press. Google Scholar
  41. Lo Verme, Stefano. 2014. “Gomorra, intervista a Marco D’Amore: ‘Ciro, antieroe tragico come Iago.’”, June 10. Accessed July 7, 2015.
  42. Luzzi, Joseph. 2014. A Cinema of Poetry: Aesthetics of the Italian Art Film. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
  43. MacKinnon, Kenneth. 2003. Representing Men: Maleness and Masculinity in the Media. London: Arnold.Google Scholar
  44. Massari, Monica, and Cataldo Motta. 2007. “Women in the Sacra Corona Unita.” In Women and the Mafia: Female Roles in Organized Crime Structures, edited by Giovanni Fiandaca, 53–66. New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  45. McDonald, Paul. 2014. “Stallone’s Stomach: Cop Land and the Weight of Actorly Legitimisation.” In The Ultimate Stallone Reader: Sylvester Stallone as Star, Icon, Auteur, edited by Chris Holmlund, 147–70. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  46. Mele, Vincenzo. 2015. “Anticipazione Gomorra 2 le serie: Genny sarà ancora più magro.” Urban Spettacolo, August 26. Accessed November 15, 2016.
  47. Mittell, Jason. 2015. Complex TV: The Poetics of Contemporary Television Storytelling. New York and London: New York University Press.Google Scholar
  48. Mobley, Jennifer-Scott. 2014. Female Bodies on the American Stage: Enter Fat Actress. New York and Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  49. Modleski, Tania. 1991. Feminism Without Women: Culture and Critique in a ‘Postfeminist’ Age. New York and London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  50. Modleski, Tania. 2009. “Clint Eastwood and Male Weepies.” American Literary History 22 (1): 136–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Naso, Domenico. 2016a. “Gomorra 2, la nuova stagione è ancora più feroce: una scarica di sangue e morte per raccontare un’Italia che esiste davvero.” Il fatto quotidiano, May 11. Accessed November 3, 2016.
  52. Naso, Domenico. 2016b. “Gomorra 2, tutti pazzi per Scianel e il vibratore dorato. Ma la neomelodica Cinza Oscar si dissocia: ‘Azione legale.’” Il fatto quotidiano, June 10. Accessed November 4, 2016.
  53. Nava, Alessandra. 2013. “Salvatore Esposito – la rivelazione di Gomorra.” Starssystem, July 22. Accessed June 29, 2015.
  54. Neale, Steve. 1986. “Melodrama and Tears.” Screen 27 (6): 6–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Nowell-Smith, Geoffrey. 1977. “Minnelli and Melodrama.” Screen 18 (2): 113–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. O’Rawe, Catherine. 2014. Stars and Masculinities in Contemporary Italian Cinema. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  57. O’Rawe, Catherine. 2015. “Romanzo criminale: la serie: Stardom, ideologia, nostalgia.” Bianco e nero 581: 43–49.Google Scholar
  58. Paone, Di Renato. 2016. “Roberto Saviano racconta Salvatore Conte, lo spietato boss di Gomorra, e di quel suo ‘amore non ordinario.’” L’Huffington Post, May 22. Accessed November 5.
  59. Plotz, Barbara. 2013. “Paul Blart and the Decline of White Working-Class Masculinities.” Fat Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Body Weight and Society 2 (2): 173–82.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Press TV. 2014. “Suicide Rate Growing in Italy Jails.” Press TV, March 14. Accessed July 9, 2015.
  61. Ravveduto, Marcello. 2014. “Donna Imma: La martire protettrice di Gomorra.”, July 26. Accessed July 2, 2015.
  62. Rees, Jasper. 2016. “Gomorrah, Series 1, Sky Atlantic, Review: ‘Ugly, in a Good Way.’” The Telegraph, May 11. Accessed November 3.
  63. Renga, Dana. 2016. “Gomorra: la serie: Beyond Realism.” The Italianist 36 (2): 287–92.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Richardson, Niall, and Adam Locks. 2014. Body Studies: The Basics. London and New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  65. Robertson, Pamela. 1999. “‘The Kind of Comedy That Imitates Me’: Mae West’s Identification with Feminist Camp.” In Camps Grounds: Style and Homosexuality, edited by David Bergman, 156–72. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press.Google Scholar
  66. Salemi, Roselina. 2014. “Gomorra, Genny e Ciro cattivi ma non troppo.” l’Espresso, June 16. Accessed June 29, 2015.
  67. Sannino, Conchita. 2016. “Ecco Gomorra la serie 2 tra realtà e fiction: ‘È il neorealismo della television.’” la Repubblica, May 10. Accessed September 9.
  68. Saviano, Roberto. 2007. Gomorrah: A Personal Journey into the Violent International Empire of Naples’ Organized Crime System. Translated by Virginia Jewiss. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.Google Scholar
  69. Saviano, Roberto. 2014. “Gomorra La Serie – Intervista a Roberto Saviano.” YouTube, May 6. Accessed November 3, 2016.
  70. Sbrizzi, Vincenzo. 2016. “Gomorra, intervista alla trans Alessandra Langella: ‘Ogni giorno mi scontro con i pregiudizi.’” Napolitoday, May 22. Accessed November 6.
  71. Scalise, Piera. 2016. “In Gomorra – La Serie Genny 2.0 è pronto a prendere le redini della famiglia: anticipazioni 17 e 24 settembre.” Optimagazine, September 17. Accessed November 14.
  72. Scozzafava, Monica. 2016. “Io Nina, trans di Gomorra Ho pianto sul set come nella vita.” Corriere del Mezzogiorno, May 19. Accessed November 5.Google Scholar
  73. Severgnini, Beppe. 2015. “‘Gomorrah’: Italy’s Criminally Great TV Show.” The New York Times, January 27. Accessed July 12.
  74. Siebert, Renate. 1996. The Secrets of Life and Death: Women and the Mafia. Translated by Liz Heron. London and New York: Verso.Google Scholar
  75. Smith, Murray. 1995. Engaging Characters: Fiction, Emotion and the Cinema. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  76. Sontag, Susan. 2002. “Notes on Camp.” In Camp: Queer Aesthetics and the Performing Subject: A Reader, edited by Fabio Cleto, 53–65. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.Google Scholar
  77. Staiger, Janet. 2008. “Film Noir as Male Melodrama: The Politics of Film Genre Labeling.” In The Shifting Definitions of Genre: Essays on Labeling Films, Television Shows, and Media, edited by Lincoln Geraghty and Mark Jancovich, 71–91. Jefferson, NC: McFarland.Google Scholar
  78. Stoloff, Sam. 2002. “Normalizing Stars: Roscoe ‘Fatty’ Arbuckle and Hollywood Consolidation.” In American Silent Film: Discovering Marginalized Voices, edited by Gregg Bachman and Thomas J. Slater, 148–75. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press.Google Scholar
  79. Swide. 2014. “5 Things About Marco D’Amore the Immortal.” Swide, August 20. Accessed July 7, 2015.
  80. Tasker, Yvonne. 1996. “Dumb Movies for Dumb People: Masculinity, the Body, and the Voice in Contemporary Action Cinema.” In Screening the Male: Exploring Masculinities in Hollywood Cinema, edited by Steven Cohan and Ina Rae Hark, 230–44. Routledge: Oxon and New York.Google Scholar
  81. Tasker, Yvonne. 2010. “Aging and Action Authenticity.” in medias res a mediacommons project, August 12. Accessed July 12, 2015.
  82. The Criterion Collection. 2008. “Film Info.” The Criterion Collection. Accessed November 7, 2016.
  83. Vimercati, Giovanni. 2014. “TV Review: Gomorrah.” Variety, May 28. Accessed October 30, 2016.
  84. Weiner, Irving B. 2003. Principles of Rorschach Interpretation, 2nd ed. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Department of French and ItalianThe Ohio State UniversityColumbusUSA

Personalised recommendations