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Dana Renga

Watching Sympathetic

Perpetrators on Italian Television: Gomorrah and Beyond

Palgrave Macmillan 2020

New Books in Arts & LettersNew Books in CommunicationsNew Books in FilmNew Books in Italian StudiesNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in Popular CultureNew Books Network August 26, 2020 Giancarlo Lombardi

In Watching Sympathetic Perpetrators on Italian Television: Gomorrah and Beyond (Palgrave MacMillan, 2019), Dana Renga offers the first comprehensive study of recent, popular Italian...

In Watching Sympathetic Perpetrators on Italian Television: Gomorrah and Beyond (Palgrave MacMillan, 2019), Dana Renga offers the first comprehensive study of recent, popular Italian television. Building on work in American television studies, audience and reception theory, and masculinity studies, her book examines how and why viewers are positioned to engage emotionally with—and root for—Italian television antiheroes. Italy’s most popular exported series feature alluring and attractive criminal antiheroes, offer fictionalized accounts of historical events or figures, and highlight the routine violence of daily life in the mafia, the police force, and the political sphere. Renga argues that Italian broadcasters have made an international name for themselves by presenting dark and violent subjects in formats that are visually pleasurable and, for many across the globe, highly addictive. Taken as a whole, this book investigates what recent Italian perpetrator television can teach us about television audiences, and our viewing habits and preferences.


Giancarlo Lombardi is Professor of Italian and Comparative Literature at the College of Staten Island and at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. He has published widely on European and North American serial drama, on Italian Film and Cultural Studies, and on cultural representations of Italian terrorism.