#13 – A New Mammy for Italian Commercial TV
A New Mammy for Italian Commercial TV
Starting Friday 15 January, Tutti insieme all’improvviso (Suddenly All Together), a new comedy TV series in 8 episodes will be aired on Canale 5 in prime time. First announced as Un amore per due, this series has been created by Federico Favot, with a writing team including Valerio Cilio, Simona Giordano and Tommaso Triolo, to be directed by Lorenzo Pavolini, and produced by Roberto Sessa for Picomedia.
If we write about it here is because in the main cast appears an actress of African descent already familiar to Italian TV and film audience, that is Félicité Mbezele. 45 and Cameroon-born, Felicité moved to Italy around early 1990s, attended Accademia Scharoff in Rome, and soon after started to collaborate with associations as cultural mediator and to have roles in independent theatrical productions, one of which supervised by Ettore Scola on a semi-autobiographical play written by herself, Kanteros – Un’africana a Roma, later published (Roma: Armando, 2006).
Felicité, whose features and witty performing style has been associated to those of Whoopy Goldberg, since mid 1990s appeared in several film and TV productions, starting with a short, Pietas, directed by Francesco Maselli for an independent collective feature called Intolerance – Sguardi del cinema sull’intolleranza. After that came about twenty supporting roles in films, under the direction also of Ferzan Ozpetek (Harem Suaré, 1999) and recently Carlo Mazzacurati (La sedia della felicità, 2014), and also TV series, as episode actress or series actress like in Una donna per amico (three seasons, 1998-2001).
As for the series plot, quoting official sources, «Our hero is called Walter (Giorgio Panariello), a veterinarian who once, many years ago decided to leave Rome, his family and friends to move to Africa to heal animals. Surrounded by unspoiled nature to treat giraffes and elephants, far from the neurosis of our civilization, he apparently built for himself an Eden where to live in peace. But at the beginning of our history he has to come back to Italy. His brother died abruptly. Walter meets again Annamaria (Lorenza Indovina) who, after his decision to move to Africa, had married his brother’s wife. Now Annamaria has three sons, Paolo (Giuseppe Maggio), who just reached the age of majority, Sara (Teresa Romagnoli), almost out of high school, and Samuel, the home puppy».
«In the vet clinic, together with a surprising bunch of dogs, Walter retrieves Carlo (Marco Mazzocca), his great friend, author with him of memorable jokes, and Laura (Lucia Ocone), Annamaria’s sister, she too veterinarian, brilliant, well trained and always positive. Our hero, still, is not so much loved in the family, they accuse him of having left everything and forgot to keep in touch. But Walter is not a common man. He understands animals, knows how to listen to the human soul, without being too serious, and rather looking at things with a light spirit».
The official website of the series presents all the main characters, among which that of Mamy, the maid played by Félicité, in those terms: «Mamy, of African origins but so much Roman by adoption, works at Brandis since time immemorial and is one of the family. She misjudged Walter on his arrival, accuses him to mess up at their home. Still, their little shows are full of snarky digs, like those of Florence and Mr. Jefferson in the famous American series».
To be featured in a prime time new TV series aired by Canale 5, the flagship channel of Silvio Berlusconi’s Mediaset is a good opportunity, and we wish Félicité sincerely all the best for this new adventure. We can’t avoid to comment negatively the choice to call Mamy a black maid in an Italian family, resurrecting a specter highly controversial for the image of blacks in Hollywood films. By the way, also the reference to Africa like a pristine, escapist paradise, calling back a repertoire of exotic motifs linked to old colonial times, does not promise anything good. Let’s wait and see.
Contributors: Leonardo De Franceschi
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