A&E’s new reality series Godfather of Pittsburgh asks the age-old question “can a legitimate businessman really have it all?”
Godfather of Pittsburgh, airing at 10pm Mondays on A&E.
This docuseries follows legitimate businessman Vince Isoldi as he balances business empire and family life. The businesses include a strip club, some real estate dealings, and other things reminiscent of The Sopranos. Isoldi claims he is not a gangster, but it would be wise not to cross him.
A&E paired the premiere with a Growing Up Gotti special, so the network is familiar with this kind of subject matter.
Isoldi is an interesting character. His talking head moments are filmed interview style, where we can hear the producer asking questions. The concept of someone being the hero of their own story is part of what makes reality television work, and Isoldi’s ends justify the means attitude comes across rather quickly. This comes across in some of the conversations and situations captured by the camera, allowing the show to trend more toward documentary than reality series. These moments are Godfather of Pittsburgh‘s strengths.
What Doesn’t Work
The moments that read more like reality show than documentary snap the viewer out of the story. Isoldi’s business and family are intertwined—an organic source of conflict—but the show feels the need to shoehorn issues. Vince does not get along with his brother-in-law and his sister has sided with her spouse. Another sister laments the fallout, but is used as producer’s exposition. When was the last time you had a conversation out of the blue beginning with “I can’t believe it’s been 18 months since you last spoke with [whoever].” There were quite a few moments in the pilot that could have had reality circus music as the soundtrack because it was completely contrived.
The characters on Godfather of Pittsburgh are intriguing and some of the problems from the pilot may be mitigated once story arcs develop. The primary conflict at this point involves a rival business opened by Vince’s brother-in-law, which isn’t contrived though a blowup between the two went from zero to eleven almost instantly. Ultimately this will come down to how much the viewer cares about the story being told. If you don’t mind the occasional reality show antics, you may want to check out this show.