I have no idea why I keep watching Brotherhood. The first two episodes suggest that the entire series is going to be little more than a knock off of The Sopranos with bad, fake New England accents and a Providence setting. Did the third episode change anything?
No, not really, although the third episode wasn't quite as tedious as the first two. Set against the background a city garbage strike, the third episode of Brotherhood explores the real life interplay of politics in Rhode Island with regards to the balance of power between state and city leaders, and the unions and organized crime.
As in real life, the series' protagonist, Tommy Caffee, is paid less than poverty line wages for his job as a state representative since Rhode Island does not have a full time legislature, and supplements his income as a real estate developer.
So when one of Tommy the private citizen's sales to an out of state client is in put in jeopardy by the mountains of trash on the streets of Providence, Tommy the politician looks for a way to help resolve the strike. While enterprising private garbage removers are kicked around by thugs acting on behalf of an organized crime syndicate, Tommy Caffee attempts to jiggle the levers of power, lobbying the mayor of Providence, the mob boss who controls the union, and one of Rhode Island's congressmen to help end the strike, and salvage his real estate deal. In the meantime, the people of Providence put up with mountains of rotting garbage and the millions of rats that feast on it. As noted earlier, Brotherhood gets points for accurately depicting the way the politics in Rhode Island actually work behind the scenes.
If any of this sounds familiar, it's because Providence was paralyzed by a garbage strike during the Cianci administration, but the real life strike was much more entertaining than the one on television. When you think about it, there's really no excuse for fiction being less entertaining than the truth, now is there?
In the meantime, there is a subplot with Tommy's unfaithful wife (played by Annabeth Gish sporting a godwaful fake Boston accent) , and a surprisingly lifeless subplot where Tommy's gangster brother, Mike, tries to recruit a gang of aging hoodlums so he can revive the career so rudely interrupted by a stint in the ACI. Perhaps The Sopranos has satisfied America's appetite for crime dramas, but blame the producers and writers of Brotherhood for making their own depiction of the New England underworld so leaden and lifeless. I know I do.