On February 21, 2021, a new television series entitled “Le Indagini di Lolita Lobosco” (“The Investigations of Lolita Lobosco”) premiered on Rai, the national public broadcasting company of Italy.
Inspired by a series of novels by Gabriella Genisi, the show follows assistant superintendent Lolita Lobosco of the Bari police force. Set in the old town of Bari Vecchia, the Rai Fiction production was partially financed with contributions from the Apulia Film Commission. Since a production of this scale is seen as an economic boon for any city, actors and actresses throughout Puglia were thrilled by the news of the show’s local production. Yet, the excitement was short-lived, and when one local actress saw the premiere, she decided to take action.
Federica Antonacci, an actress born and raised in Bari Vecchia, noticed that none of the show’s stars were actually Pugliese, and that their attempts to affect the Barese dialect, as well as the portrayal of the ancient city and its people in general, left something to be desired. So, joined by a wave of Pugliesi across social media, Antonacci took her disappointment to the court of public opinion.
On this week’s episode, she is joining us to discuss reactions from people throughout Italy to the show’s stereotypical portrayals and to dig deeper into questions of stereotypes in Italian media… from the ways different Italian regions are represented, to cliched Italian tropes about Italian Americans.
We’ll discuss perceptions about Italy’s regional languages, why Italian actors have a hard time being cast in productions in both Italy and the United States, and what it means to create cinema or television in which non-Italians are cast in Italian roles.
Is “Le Indagini di Lolita Lobosco” cultural appropriation or appreciation, and where do we draw the line between the two?