Boardwalk Empire

Last watched 2015


Prohibition era Atlantic City. Enoch “Nucky” Thompson sits in power as the one controlling things. He’s the kingpin of corruption, greasing palms everywhere; the police, the politicians, the bootleggers and the public. Nothing gets done without his say so.

But there are folk who want to bring him down. Some are just your regular no-good gangsters who want a piece of his power, others genuinely believe in prohibition and see him as a blight on the landscape of Atlantic City and the US.


Boardwalk Empire is categorically one of the most graphic, gruesomely violent shows on television but it has a lot of elements that make it worth watching. It very adeptly dissects the notions of power and control in both political and interpersonal relationships. The setting, costume and writing are really lovingly sculpted and fleshed out. Part of the reason it’s so confronting is that every effort has been made to make it realistic.

Nucky is not a physically strong man, but he is completely scurrilous and manipulative. Every time you start to take a shine to this anti-hero, he does something that erases your goodwill to him. It’s clever how the show manipulates the viewer like he manipulates those around him.

It’s essentially a fable about the disintegration of a man due to his thirst for money, power and approval.

Pros: Excellent acting, direction and writing. Women characters are diverse and well rounded. There are a few diverse people of colour who are depicted as fully fledged characters.
Cons: Ultra violent, very dark
Genre: Historical drama, crime drama

Light/heavy rating: 9
Approach carefully if: you have issues with extreme depictions of violence, child molestation, child sex slavery (essentially), infidelity, elder abuse, alcohol abuse, domestic violence.

Can be found: HBO

If you liked, I recommend: Game of Thrones, True Detective, Carnivale, the Heavy Water War, Broadchurch


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