"Decades of sensitive, sophisticated filmmaking about the Mafia means that the average viewer sees a mobster as a human being, not a cartoon murderer," Josephine Livingstone says of director Sam Hobkinson's Netflix docuseries on the FBI's 1980s takedown of the New York mafia. "This is where Fear City falls down. Without providing much in-depth analysis of the mob’s effect on society—horrifying in many cases, to be sure—Hobkinson expects his viewer automatically to be on the FBI’s side. Despite the documentary’s juicy tapes and cinematic subject matter, Hobkinson seems to forget what year we’re living in. If there’s any key theme to 2020’s cultural politics, it’s that American law enforcement, not to mention Rudy Giuliani himself, has completely lost its right to our automatic sympathies. Reagan’s head flashes up in one bit of archival footage, saying that the American family is the key to creating wealth. Isn’t that exactly what the Italian Mafia in New York did—turn family ties into a whole system of social governance? Mobsters kill people. But so do the police. Fear City takes it for granted that you will sympathize with FBI agent Marilyn Luchts when she calls a relationship between (mob boss Paul) Castellano and a maid named Gloria 'sordid' and laughs about the colleague who had to listen to them having sex. That tape came from a bug planted by the police inside a private residence. Castellano was a criminal, sure, but Gloria? She was a regular working-class human being, one in a vulnerable position with her employer, and her treatment at the hands of the FBI (Cantamessa personally lied to her while undercover, extracting her secrets) is downright offensive. Worst of all, Fear City uses one single bit of archival footage featuring Donald Trump, the most famous landlord in New York City, and one bit of surveillance tape mentioning his name—out of context, meaning you can’t understand it. As Wayne Barrett mentions in his 2016 biography of Trump, however, the businessman’s interests in casinos and real estate means that he constantly did business with the Mafia."