Created by the same production company as the docuseries Don’t F*ck With Cats, Fear City explores a derelict time in New York’s history, where the five Mafia families took control of Manhattan. The series follows the FBI’s concerted effort to take down all five families at the same time.
“I grew up in the ’70s and ’80s in the UK. For me, New York was a mythical place — violent and exciting,” Fear City director Sam Hobkinson tells Rolling Stone. “You wouldn’t go there, because everyone said it was too dangerous — and for that reason, it was exotic. So this was an opportunity to tell a panoramic tale of New York, from the wiseguys on the streets all the way up to the lawmakers in City Hall, at this most dramatic point in its history.”
Hobkinson cites Francis Ford Coppola’s 1974 film The Conversation as an inspiration for the series, in the way it pieces together archival audio and footage to tell a crime story. “Most mob stories are told from the point of view of the mobsters but we decided the main thread of the narrative would be the FBI investigation. Then, generically, it becomes a techno-spy thriller with all the bugging and surveillance… Our incredible team of researchers managed to unearth amazing surveillance tapes that haven’t been heard before and hundreds of photographs that haven’t been seen.”