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Series / Magic City

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Magic City is an American drama television series that aired on the Starz network.

It is a period crime drama set in 1959 Miami. It focuses on hotelier Ike Evans (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), who owns the luxurious Miramar Playa Hotel, who is forced to make an ill-fated deal with Jewish mob boss Ben Diamond (Danny Huston) to ensure the success of his glitzy establishment. It also shows the relationships of Vera Evans (Olga Kurylenko), Ike's second wife and stepmother to his sons Stevie (Steven Strait), Ike's "bad boy" older son who manages the Miramar's Atlantis Lounge, and Danny (Christian Cooke), his straight-arrow younger son and a law school student; Lily Diamond (Jessica Marais), Ben Diamond's trophy wife who has a secret affair with Stevie; and Judi Silver (Elena Satine), a prostitute who works out of the Atlantis Lounge and as such does occasional jobs for Ike and Stevie.

The pilot episode previewed on Starz on March 30, 2012, and premiered on April 6, 2012. The series was canceled on August 5, 2013, after two seasons.

This show provides examples of:

  • The '50s: The series is set in 1959 with the Cuban Revolution being discussed in some episodes.
  • Actor Allusion: Sy Berman is played by James Caan. In a rather obvious reference to Caan's role as Sonny in The Godfather, Sy is targeted in an Assassination Attempt that involves dozens of rounds being emptied on him, similar to Sonny's infamous death scene. However, in this case Sy doesn't die from it. Rather, Sy musters enough strength to climb to his car and start itů and then it explodes.
  • Affably Evil: Bel Jaffe. He is friendly to everyone and does not get angry at Ike for trying to get his money back after placing a bet.
  • All Jews Are Ashkenazi: None of the Jews are Mizrahi or Sephardic Jews.
  • Amoral Attorney: Sid Raskin. Jack Klein threatens Raskin to try to get him to flip.
  • And Starring: Danny Huston as Ben Diamond.
  • Arms Dealer: Ben Diamond sells arms to Cubans who want to overthrow Castro.
  • Assassination Attempt: Ben Diamond attempts to have Sy Berman assassinated.
  • Berserk Button: Bel Jaffe attacks someone who owes him money after he calls him the K-word.
  • Blackmail: Stevie and Lily Diamond are blackmailed for $20,000 with photos of them in a compromising position.
  • Blackmail Backfire: Stevie tells Ben Diamond that the blackmailer stole from him to get Diamond to kill the blackmailer.
  • The Butcher: Ben Diamond. There are two stories on how he got the nickname "The Butcher."
  • Bullying a Dragon: Florida State Senator Ned Sloat complaining to Ben Diamond about how Diamond killed a maid.
  • Celebrity Resemblance: It's discussed that Judi Silver looks like Marilyn Monroe.
  • Cigar Chomper: Ben Diamond, Bel Jaffe, and Ike.
  • Corrupt Politician: Florida State Senator Ned Sloat. Ike is supposed to give him $65,000 to support legalized gambling in the state of Florida. Sloat tells Ike "I cannot be bought, but I can be rented." Ike offers Sloat $10,000 to vote against legalized gambling.
  • Covert Group with Mundane Front: A CIA agent pretends to be a businessman interested in a free Cuba.
  • Crapsaccharine World: Nothing at the Miramar Playa is what it seems. By day, it's diving clowns and cha-cha lessons. By nights, escorts have secret liaisons with husbands in the family cabanas, while Miami's seedier residents and the law drift together to hear legendary singers, musicians, and comics.
  • Dashing Hispanic: Carlos Ruiz, who is attracted to Mercedes. He is a young Cuban with a mustache.
  • Dirty Communists: Stevie calls his grandfather a commie. Stevie's grandfather participates in a sit-in at a lunch counter. Stevie's grandfather also uses Communist rhetoric at a Passover Seder. Many characters hate Castro for various reasons.
  • Equal-Opportunity Evil: Ben Diamond employs a black named Butterball to watch over a bolita house. Bel Jaffe lets blacks place bets with him. Bel Jaffe describes a black who owes him money who tried to kill him as "not a bad person."
  • Everyone Loves Blondes: Both Danny and Stevie sleep with Judi Silver.
  • The Exile: Ben Diamond is in Miami because he was forced out of Miami by Castro.
  • External Combustion: Sy Berman's car.
  • Family Business: Ike owns 51% of the hotel. Ike and his son Stevie work in the hotel. Danny is a law student. Vera appears to be a hostess. She also later dances in the hotel. Lauren goes to Hebrew school.
  • Family Versus Career: Vera gave up her dancing career to marry Ike.
  • Fanservice: Judi Silver, Lily Diamond, and Vera Evans. Vera is seen naked in the first five minutes of the series premiere.
  • Fat, Sweaty Southerner in a White Suit: Florida State Senator Ned Sloat represents Northern Florida. The more north you go in Florida, the more Southern you get.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Ben Diamond. He is capable of being charismatic and charming, but once that façade drops, a murderous, jealous and domineering man who abuses his wife and will hurt anyone he wants comes out.
  • Fixing the Game: Ike gets his Cuban government contact to fix the bolita game to make Ben Diamond lose $2 million.
  • Gangbangers: Rick Ross plays Butterball, the head of a bolita house that works for Ben Diamond.
  • Good is Not Nice: Jack Klein, a prosecutor threatens to shoot a suspect if she does not tell him any information.
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Judi Silver, who refuses to testify against Ike after he saves her from a hitman.
  • Good Bad Girl: Lily Diamond. Both a Woobie more than a Femme Fatale and a saint compared to her husband, shows genuine devotion to Stevie and even brings about the end of Ben Diamond
  • In Love with the Gangster's Girl: Stevie sleeping with Jewish mobster Ben Diamond's wife.
  • Inconveniently Vanishing Exonerating Evidence: Judi Silver's confession that would blame someone besides Ike Evans is burned by Jack Klein.
  • It's Cuban: The Cuban who is interested in Mercedes offers her a cigar and tells her it is Cuban.
  • Kick the Dog:
    • In the pilot episode, it is quickly established that the union organizers are not good guys. They kill a dog that belongs to Ike's wife in order to intimidate Ike into allowing unions in his hotel.
    • Later we are introduced to the gangster Ben "The Butcher" Diamond. He is quickly shown to have a Hair-Trigger Temper and this is cemented when he shoots one of his guard dogs because it is barking loudly while he is on the phone. He does so while his new wife is playing with the dog and she is splattered with its blood and brains.
  • Kosher Nostra: Ben Diamond, Bel Jaffe, and Sy Berman. Diamond and Jaffe are involved in illegal gambling and arms dealing. They are not Italian. One character calls Bel Jaffe the K-word.
  • Lecherous Stepparent: Vera and Stevie, who are stepmother and stepson, have some very flirty exchanges. The last seen of Vera in the Season 2 finale (and thus the entire series) is her waiting outside Stevie's place, with the implication that she intends to consumate their attraction.
  • Love-Obstructing Parents: Mercedes' father Victor does not want her to date or marry Danny.
  • Mysterious Note: In one episode, an envelope is shoved under the door. When opened, it contains a photo with "$20,000" written on the back. The photo shows one of the main characters in bed with a mobster's wife and is clearly an attempt at blackmail.
  • Nice Jewish Boy: Danny does not want to become involved in the hotel business like his brother Stevie.
  • No Such Thing as Bad Publicity: Subverted In-Universe when Ben Diamond is on the front page of a newspaper and causes the gambling legalization bill to fail.
  • The Oldest Profession: Judi Silver and other prostitutes service the Miramar Playa Hotel and Red Light District.
  • Opposed Mentors: Ike and Ben Diamond for Stevie. Ike and Jack Klein for Danny.
  • Professional Killer: Jimmy Shoes, who is hired by Ben Diamond to kill Judi Silver.
  • Red Light District: Jack Klein drives Danny through Miami's Red Light District. Danny later visits the Red Light District on his own to see Judi Silver.
  • Retargeted Lust: Stevie sleeps with Judi Silver and imagines Lily Diamond.
  • Rightful King Returns: Danny Huston sees his character as a deposed Roman emperor in exile waiting to return to Cuba.
  • Robbing the Mob Bank: Stevie accuses a person of doing this to Ben Diamond's cabana to get Ben Diamond to kill him.
  • Shower of Love: Danny and Mercedes before she leaves to become a flight attendant.
  • Throwing the Fight: Subverted. A big boxing match is coming up and the main characters get a tip that a mobster is betting against the current champion. They realize that the fight is fixed and bet big against that boxer. They realize too late that the tip was false and the match is fair. The mobster had his mooks spread the rumor around town so the odds shifted against the champion and the mobster bet his money on the champion. When the champion demolished the challenger the mobster won a fortune and everyone who acted on the tip was cleaned out.
  • Trapped by Gambling Debts: Doug, an Assistant State Attorney secretly works for Ben Diamond because he owes money to Diamond's bookie Bel Jaffe.