Producer Lorenzo Mieli Breaks Down His Two New Genre Series, ‘Bang Bang Baby’ and ‘The King’

Producer Lorenzo Mieli, who has brought to the screen top Italian TV series such as “The Young Pope” and “My Brilliant Friend,” is launching two new crime shows with innovative elements: “The King” and “Bang Bang Baby.”

Both stem from his bent to push boundaries of genre storytelling that is “borne from authenticity,” he says.

“The King,” which is Italy’s first prison drama, recently bowed positively in Italy on Comcast-owned Sky’s pay-TV service and also premiered internationally at the Series Mania fest.

The dark show stars Luca Zingaretti, best known as the titular character in Italy’s widely exported “Inspector Montalbano” series. He plays Bruno Testori the sometimes psychopathic director of a maximum security penitentiary located on an unspecified Italian border territory that is not subject to Italian law. There Testori, who is a mixture of good and evil, can apply his totally personal idea of justice. The show’s larger narrative has to do with how Italy contends with terrorism and its ramifications in the country’s jails and also the link between terrorism prevention and the country’s secret services.

“Bang Bang Baby” (pictured) which is premiering at the Canneseries fest and will drop globally on Amazon’s Prime Video starting on April 28, is a “family melodrama steeped in crime,” as Mieli puts it.

The 10-episode show, which is set in 1980’s Milan, turns on a shy, insecure teenager named Alice who becomes the youngest member of the Calabrian mob, known as the ‘Ndrangheta. She does this not for money, ambition, or a burning desire for power, “but to win the love of her father,” he says.

“Bang Bang Baby” originates from a doc produced by Mieli titled “Lady ’Ndrangheta” about Marisa Merico, who was the real daughter of an ‘Ndrangheta boss. She was born to a British mother in Blackpool and as teen-ager joined her father in Milan without having a clue as to what her dad did for a living.

It was a very interesting story with real characters,” says Mieli who notes that Merico’s grandmother had been a big ‘Ndrangheta crime boss in Milan in the 1980s.

“Bang Bang Baby” loosely draws inspiration from this story. Especially the aspect pertaining to ‘What is a 16-year-old girl in the 1980s willing to do to be loved and accepted by her parents?’,” says Mieli.

The protagonist discovers that her father is a criminal who, in turn, “asks her to be a criminal for love,” he says.

“Once Alice gives in, what happens?,” asks Mieli rhetorically. “Will she really be a [long term] criminal, or will she eventually betray [her father] and understand the mistakes that she’s made? “Or will she try to find compromises?”

This is the show’s dramatic premise. Another distinctive aspect of “Bang Bang Baby” is that it gave Mieli an opportunity to make a coming-of-ager from the point of view of a female protagonist “who simultaneously discovers the beauty and drama of adolescence and the truth about who she is; about what world she belongs to and what’s required” in that world, he says.

Mieli was also drawn to this world “because it’s a matriarchy,” he points out, since “it’s a known fact that women have a central role in the ’Ndrangheta.”

It’s all very Italian, Mieli points out. But in the same vein as other Italian dramas that have become international hits.

“The audience is supposed to think: ‘This a very pulpy comic book genre show, and then be surprised that actually many of the elements are true’,” he says.

“These days in Italy there are very few genre products that are entertaining, innovative, up to international standards and at the same time authentic,” says Mieli, who cites “Gomorrah,” as “a very high benchmark.”

“But what ‘Gomorrah’ taught us is that “genre and authenticity can and should co-exist.”

“Bang Bang Baby,” which is produced for Amazon by Mieli via The Apartment and Wildside – both Fremantle companies – stars Arianna Becheroni, Adriano Giannini, Antonio Gerardi, Dora Romano, Lucia Mascino and Giuseppe De Domenico. The show was created by Andrea Di Stefano and has been directed by Michele Alhaique, Margherita Ferri, and Giuseppe Bonito.

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