New Jersey has always been a favorite subject of hack comedians. The kind from New York who bumper their Jersey jokes with ones about airlines and their mother-in-laws. Now New Jersey has its own genre of reality shows. For those into fashion there is Jersey Couture and Jerseylicious (which takes the prize of the show with the most god-awful name). For anyone interested in seeing housewives with borderline personality disorders there is no better place to go than The Real Housewives of New Jersey. And finally, the worst offender, Jersey Shore. Enough has been written about the shallowness and sheer stupidity of Jersey Shore and I don't want to add anymore attention to the attention-seekers on MTV (yet I still know all their names).
Finally, something comes around and validates this new attention set on my beloved state. On Sept. 19 the series Boardwalk Empire is set to premiere. Set in the early days of Atlantic City, Boardwalk Empire is about the city and how it dealt with prohibition. Thanks to prohibition a market was created for illegal alcohol, and many of those prohibition players dealt with Atlantic City. This was Atlantic City before she sold her soul to casinos. The place was one big attraction, built in order to bring anyone they can to it's luxurious beaches.
The series is based off Boardwalk Empire: The Birth, High Times and Corruption of Atlantic City by Nelson Johnson. When the book first came out I remember seeing people around me reading it. Being from the Atlantic City area, it was only natural that we would all be interested in our local history being in print. The modest book must of caught the eye of some important people. Martin Scorsese himself is involved with the series and even directed the first episode in the series. While I doubt he is deeply involved in the series, the fact that he is involved at is a good sign for the series. Although HBO's last effort, The Pacific, left me underwhelmed; it is my hope that the channel redeems itself with what could be a solid series.
Boardwalk Empire centers around the character of Nucky Thompson, played by Steve Buscemi. I've always liked Buscemi. As a character actor, nobody has the range that Buscemi has. While he may not be as famous as he should be, I'd like to think that people can't help but smile every time he is on screen. He always makes the most out of any role he is in and with the weight of a whole series on a veteran supporting actor, I can't wait to see Buscemi shine. Also starring is Michael Pitt, who I've never really been a fan of. I doubt his involvement will ruin the experience for me but I've never really enjoyed anything he's been in. Also involved is Michael K. Williams who also played breakout character Omar Little on the critically acclaimed series The Wire.
Atlantic City will always be important to me. It was the place that my parents grew up. As I grew I would hear the stories of how the neighborhoods use to be. I hope that what should be a well-made series will reclaim Atlantic City's pride and maybe even New Jersey's. Hopefully Boardwalk Empire will be enough to re-legitimatize New Jersey. Either way it should prove to be good television from people that know what they are doing. To reiterate, the show premieres on Sunday, Sept. 19.