Watch American Gangster
- 3 Seasons
American Gangster is a television series that offers gripping insight into the history of some of the most notorious Black-American criminal minds whose names are etched in the minds and hearts of many. These criminals range from murderers to drug dealers and robbers. In each episode of this BET documentary production, the narrator, Ving Rhames, using his distinctively precise baritone of his, concentrates on a particular crime lord. He examines, in depth, circumstances that surrounded each individual during their rise to fame (or infamy). He also looks at how the infamous figure organized and managed his crime operations. The series covers some compelling figures: there is Stanley Tookie Williams, a former Crips leader who was later awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for his campaign against gangs and gang violence and then later executed for his numerous murderers while he was gang leader. Another example are The Smith Brothers, who run San Francisco's most notorious ring of jewelry thieves. American Gangster is careful to offer a critical analysis of these characters without seeming to praise their criminal acts, and it succeeds here where several similar documentaries have struggled. The level of depth involved helps a great deal, offering a detached view that shows how these criminal minds run their crime rings, exposing some of their internal workings, and things of that nature. It uses news and magazine snippets as well as previously unused footage, and includes interviews and photography with telling detail. The show also examines how these figures affected their communities, pointing out the social, economic and political impact that these people had in the neighborhoods that they lived in, while using more than just one perspective. Unlike most television series that use a more fictional approach that emphasizes entertainment and glamorization to a certain extent, American Gangster is insightful while being quite deliberately objective. It helps one forge a better understanding of how these infamous figures and crime lords imprinted their names into Black history.