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Home TV Shows Reviews ‘Zero’ Series Review: The First Italian Series that Centers the Black Italian Experience

‘Zero’ Series Review: The First Italian Series that Centers the Black Italian Experience

This Italian series led by a young man who turns his social invisibility into a superpower, in a triumph for multiculturalism, inclusion, and the fight against prejudice

Ritika Kispotta - Mon, 26 Apr 2021 11:16:11 +0100 612 Views
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Invisibility in the eyes of society is transformed into a superpower in Zero, the new Italian Netflix original series created by Menotti, based upon an idea by the writer of Angolan origin Antonio Dikele Distefano. This eight-episode production sees an Italian series placing a young, Italian man of color at the heart of its story, for the very first time, supported by a wholly multicultural cast of young, second-generation immigrants, to tackle themes such as diversity, inclusion, gentrification and the sense of belonging within an outer suburb of Milan which has never been shown before.

“Being invisible is the real power” is one of the quotes that stand out in the trailer of the new Italian original series “Zero.” A punchy quote per se, it has an even stronger impact when the viewer realizes the superhero uttering it has no mask nor fancy costumes but is a Black Italian boy. Not only is he the protagonist of the show, but he is also joined by a cast almost entirely made up of Black Italian youths.

So “Zero” is a superhero fiction series — a rare film genre in Italy’s TV and movie offer — but, most importantly, it marks the first time the country has produced a show centered around the lives of Black youths, creating a long-overdue precedent for wider representation in the nation’s film scene.

Yet it would be reductive to frame “Zero” only around its unprecedented casting choice. While shedding a light on the challenges and dreams of the second generation of immigrants and lived in the suburbs, the series promises to voice concerns and treat themes that are current and universal: friendship, love, integration, and a sense of community are all part of the narrative, therefore making “Zero” potentially appealing for all younger generations, regardless of their origins.

The on-screen friendship between Sharif and Zero reflects the bond the two actors created in real life, which was strengthened by having interacted for the longest time on set last year. Overall, the whole cast got along well — with Fall finding also a romantic partner in actress Scattolin — sharing the exceptional experience of living together in a hotel for three months due to the pandemic. But, aside from Omar and Shariff, every other character here is poorly written and given very little to work with. Omar’s sister Awa does come into the fold late on but her development is both rushed and forced, leading to an awkward twist that just doesn’t work. That’s to say nothing of Shariff’s gang either, who all have their subplots that are just abandoned without a clear resolution.

It’s probably more disappointing given the potential this story had. There are echoes of Miles Morales here, with the charismatic Giuseppe Dave Seke doing his best to try and drive this series forward. Unfortunately, it’s all in vain as this series never quite follows through on its ideas with enough conviction.

While there are enjoyable moments here, they’re fleeting at best. This superhero origin story never quite gets off the ground, torn between being a familial drama, social commentary on the rich/ poor divide, and delivering an outright action flick. The result then is a disjointed and awkward series that’s very unlikely to get a second season it’s so desperately banking on.

With episodes at 25 minutes apiece, Zero leaves the viewer wanting more with a high-tempo, well-directed story arc that does not appear to lose pace. The story does prove the depth and does not signal to the viewers that this is a one-off project. Its flagrantly clear that the creator (Menotti) has more seasons in mind to flesh out Omar and his inner circle.

Let’s hope that Zero gets the attention it deserves; with the Italian vibe, the multicultural aspect, its microscopic look at poverty, and its impact on young people, Zero is not merely here to flump up the Netflix thumbnails. The series has maintained a good balance between social issues and a meaningful story that easily resonates with the viewers.

Final Score – [6.2/10]
Reviewed by – Ritika Kispotta
Follow her @KispottaRitika on Twitter (https://twitter.com/KispottaRitika)

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