This book offers the first comprehensive study of recent, popular Italian television. Building on work in American television studies, audience and reception theory, and masculinity studies,
Sympathetic Perpetrators and their Audiences on Italian Television examines how and why viewers are positioned to engage emotionally with—and root for—Italian television antiheroes. Italy’s most popular exported series feature alluring and attractive criminal antiheroes, offer fictionalized accounts of historical events or figures, and highlight the routine violence of daily life in the mafia, the police force, and the political sphere. Renga argues that Italian broadcasters have made an international name for themselves by presenting dark and violent subjects in formats that are visually pleasurable and, for many across the globe, highly addictive. Taken as a whole, this book investigates what recent Italian perpetrator television can teach us about television audiences, and our viewing habits and preferences.