Showtime's short-lived mob series. Was often overlooked as a corned beef and cabbage flavored version of The Sopranos but was very much its own beast. If anything it shared more in common with another HBO show, The Wire. Lasted from July, 2006 to December, 2008. A total of 29 episodes in three seasons.
The show followed the exploits of two extremely morally dubious brothers in New England in different positions of power: Tommy Caffee (Jason Clarke), the young brother and up-and-coming star in the Rhode Island House of Representatives, and older Michael Caffee (Jason Isaacs), freshly returned from a seven year exile and ready to rage his way back to the top of The Irish Mob. The further each brother goes to pursue their own power brings them deeper and deeper into a world of extreme Black-and-Gray Morality until it's hard to say who is more of a monster.
Very Loosely Based on a True Story, the show is very visibly influenced by the story of the Bulger brothers from Boston (Whitey being a notorious Irish mob boss, and brother Billy being in the Massachusetts State Senate). Shot entirely on location in Providence, Rhode Island, the show is New England to the core, though some liberties are taken with the location to make it resemble South Boston more than Providence.
- Affably Evil: Freddy Cork can be funny and even happy go lucky when playing minigolf.
- Arc Words: "There are no secrets in this family!"
- Because I'm Good At It: Roughly Michael's justification for his career/lifestyle, with a dose of self-loathing.
- Black-and-Gray Morality: There are very few, if any characters with significant redeeming qualities and both brothers are shown to pretty much destroy the lives of everyone around them.
- Butt-Monkey: Jimmy, Jimmy, Jimmy.
- Cain and Abel: Of course.
- Counterfeit Cash: One of Michael's operations which causes a number of problems for everyone, though Ma Caffee finds at least one good use for it.
- Crazy Jealous Guy: Michael.
- Creepy Child: Mary Rose fits this trope to a T.
- Deal with the Devil: Major recurring theme of the show, with various different forms of Devils.
- Dirty Cop: Declan's partner Ralph after Michael helps him cover up an accidental shooting.
- Downer Ending: One person gets out ahead, but mostly at the expense everyone around them, with everyone else hopelessly scarred and broken beyond repair.
- Ear Ache: Early on Michael witnesses Moe threaten a girl and tear off one of her earrings. Michael does not take kindly to this...
- Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Michael.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Michael, of course, but also Freddie Cork (Michael's boss, who's devoted to his wife and children) and Alphonse Nozzoli (who loves his wife even though he complains about how much money she spends).
- Evil Mentor: Jud teaches Tommy the ways of...extremely manipulative and cynical politics.
- The Exile: The series begins with a series of events which allow Michael to return to Providence after 7 years on the run, two steps ahead of arrest and one step ahead of a hit. By the end of the series, he's right back where he started.
- Hair-Trigger Temper: If Michael is having a problem his most common answer is RAGE.
- The Irish Mob: A major focus of the show with Michael trying to take control of it and Tommy having many ties to it.
- Jerkass: Moe, big-time. Also Speaker Donatello, aka 'Don Don'.
- Karma Houdini: Tommy.
- Luke, I Am Your Father: Judd turns out to be Colin's father.
- The Mafia: The major league rivals to the Irish mob's minor league.
- Neighbourhood-Friendly Gangsters: Subverted, big-time.
- Noodle Incident: We never learn what Michael did before he came back to Providence.
- Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Fionnula Flanagan started out trying to do the New England accent, then gave up after a few episodes and went back to her normal Irish accent.
- Prodigal Son: Michael.
- Shown Their Work: While some aspects of Providence are fictionalized for plot purposes much of the feel and dynamics of the show capture the area and culture of New England perfectly.
- Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Way, way off the carts on the cynical side.
- Southies: Although the series was shot and takes place in Providence, RI, some of it resembles South Boston more (for example, there isn't as significant Irish population in Providence as the shows it out to be and there was never a strong Irish mob there like there was in Massachusetts).
- Thanksgiving Episode: The penultimate episode in season 2 in which everyone experiences what is possibly the worst Thanksgiving Day ever.
- The Labor Day episode was no picnic either.
- The Troubles: It is implied that Colin was once involved with the IRA. True or not, he certainly knows how to mix up a Molotov Cocktail.
- Wise Beyond Their Years: Again, Mary Rose, so, so much.