Boardwalk Empire premiered on Sunday night with a beautifully made pilot directed by Martin Scorsese. It's set in Atlantic City in the 1920s.
But we kept wondering: is this our first fictionalized reaction to the financial crisis?
Something about the nihilist protagonist Nucky Thompson, the complex plot, the way the authorities are thoroughly corrupted by the influence of monied men, brought to mind the heyday of the real estate boom and pre-crisis Wall Street.
When Thompson, played by Steve Buscemi, raises his glass and proposes a toast “to those beautiful, ignorant bastards” in Washington who enacted alcohol prohibition, we shuddered a bit. You could almost imagine one of the CEOs of Wall Street's storied firms—O'Neal, Cayne, Fuld, Weill, take your pick—proposing a similar toast to the banking and securities industry regulators.
The film critic Armond White describes the scene of the New Year's Eve celebration from Boardwalk empire as conveying "an impending social disaster as a culture celebrates its own self-destruction."
Steve Schwazman's 60th birthday, celebrated at the Seventh Regiment Armory on New York’s Park Avenue just days after Blackstone closed on its $39 billion purchase a real estate deal that was the largest leveraged buyout ever, came sharply to mind.
Perhaps we've just got Wall Street on our minds. But maybe, just maybe, the makers of Boardwalk Empire are sending us a message.