Godfather of Harlem: Season 1 (2019)


Season 1
Godfather of Harlem

Critics Consensus

As sharply dressed as it is smartly written, Godfather of Harlem walks familiar blocks to its own beat and makes a strong first impression.



Critic Ratings: 25


Audience Score

User Ratings: 99

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Air date: Sep 29, 2019

Bumpy Johnson returns from Alcatraz to reunite with his family and reclaim his Harlem territory from Italian mob boss Vincent Gigante. He finds an unlikely ally in his old friend Malcolm X.

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Air date: Oct 6, 2019

Bumpy Johnson must regain control of the dope trade if he's to rule Harlem and engineers a daring theft of heroin from an unusual source to do so.

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Air date: Oct 13, 2019

Bumpy unexpectedly finds himself at Elise's side when her shoplifting arrest and subsequent abuse is the catalyst for a protest where conflicting interests cause tensions to rise.

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Air date: Oct 20, 2019

Cassius Clay comes to New York to fight Doug Jones at Madison Square Garden, only to discover that Chin and the mob want him to take a dive. Bumpy must decide if he'll protect Clay's secret: a relationship with Malcolm X that could end his boxing career.

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Air date: Oct 27, 2019

In an effort to break Bumpy's bank, Chin fixes a bet. As a result, Bumpy owes the winners more than he can cover. Police arrest Stella and Teddy for kissing. Elise looks toward the Nation of Islam in order to better herself.

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Air date: Nov 3, 2019

To settle his debt with the mob, Bumpy is tasked with killing mob snitch Joe Valachi, but when the hit fails, Bumpy is faced with a terrible decision.

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Air date: Nov 10, 2019

A war starts between the Bonanno and Genovese families because of Bumpy; Margaret goes missing.

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Air date: Nov 17, 2019

An Italian mob war takes over Harlem.

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Air date: Nov 24, 2019

Due to slum conditions in Harlem, Adam Clayton Powell Jr. leads a rent strike.

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Bumpy tries to secure the his and his family's safety; President John F. Kennedy is assassinated; Teddy gets to perform at the Apollo Theater.

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Critic Reviews for Godfather of Harlem Season 1

All Critics (25) | Top Critics (10)

[Whitaker] holds it all together, but this is definitely an ensemble piece, and it's smart, engaging television that only occasionally falters under the weight of its ambition to tell a few too many stories at once.

Oct 6, 2019 | Full Review…

Even with its ambitions, its embracing of the genre's cliches, its at-times strained credulity, and overstuffed plot lines may keep new audiences away.

Sep 30, 2019 | Rating: C+ | Full Review…

Whitaker gets his first series lead role, with predictable results - all good.

Sep 27, 2019 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

Through it all, Whitaker keeps a tight rein on his performance, letting his storied intensity break through in just a few flashes.

Sep 30, 2019 | Full Review…

This unofficial prequel to "American Gangster" does play with nostalgia from the era... But its depiction of a racially divided, corrupt and often venal world rings just as true today.

Oct 2, 2019 | Full Review…

What lifts Godfather Of Harlem above your standard mobster bloodbath is its classy evocation of a New York caught on the cusp of major upheaval.

Nov 6, 2020 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

The historical context is fascinating and the series lives up to its rich complexity. [Full Review in Spanish]

Jun 24, 2020 | Full Review…

Godfather of Harlem, which is stuffed with real historical figures, including Malcolm X, tries to be a mash-up of over-familiar gangster clichés and lofty history of the African-American quest for social justice, but ends up overreaching.

Jan 8, 2020 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

I'm not saying devious behaviour is to be celebrated but even in the crime world, ingenuity and creativity exist before the inevitable demise of the criminal.

Nov 22, 2019 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

The show mostly bobs along at a level of "pretty good," and every now and then it crests higher than that. The trio of Whitaker, D'Onofrio, and Esposito are enough to make anything worth watching, and they're matched by a superb Nigél Thatch.

Oct 11, 2019 | Full Review…

It's gritty, pulpy and unpredictable and confident in a swagger that's not really trying to emulate the soft nuances of "prestige" crime dramas like Breaking Bad or The Sopranos.

Oct 6, 2019 | Full Review…

On one level it's a good entertainment, featuring a stellar cast and fantastic production values, on another level it uses the melodrama of this genre to explore themes about race in a way you normally wouldn't get in a mere crime thriller.

Oct 3, 2019 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Godfather of Harlem: Season 1

  • Jul 04, 2020
    Captivating story with a script that uses important historical facts as a framework. The battle for the street in Harlem in the sixties, with the confrontation between the black community and the Italians, has components of great interest. Excellent performances, where Forest Whitaker stands out clearly. The only element of criticism is the music, not because of its quality, but because I would have preferred them to use songs from that time.
  • Apr 15, 2020
    The acting is amazing: Forrest Whitaker and Vincent D'Onofrio are spot on.
  • Apr 11, 2020
    My new favorite series. This is some amazing entertainment
  • Feb 12, 2020
    Rivering with a great soundtrack and an authentic feel of the real Harlem. Forrest Whitaker at the top of his game. Whats not to like?
  • Feb 09, 2020
    Forest Whittaker is back with a vengeance transforming himself into the Bumpy Johnson Role. Brilliant. The show is so compelling I binged on the entire season 1 over 2 days. Every single actor is addictive & naturally fitting in the scenes. The actor playing Gin, and all the other mob heads are truly convincing - enough to turn your stomach inside out. Set design was very accurate. I wish I could have seen them transform Lenox Terrace here in Harlem because the lobby area appears very authentic. It looks just like it did in the early 90's (though this is set in the 60's - all of the buildings were updated in 2002). The young cute Italian kid "Ernie" (Rafi Gavron) reminded me of the young kid who played Deniro's son in A Bronx Tale. He's holding it down in this role, though playing an awful, insecure, spiritually lost young killer for the mob, who spends his days trying to become a made man. Adding Bumpys' complicated relationship with Malcom X, and Malcom's struggles within the NOA kept me watching episode after episode. The handsome, captivating Nigel Thatch brought Malcom to life on screen in the most mesmerizing way. Even Elijah Mohammed being played by Clifton Davis was a huge surprise that WORKED!! He really looks like him and does him well. Wow. The storyline for this series is thick, heavy, but realistically portrayed throughout each episode. It may seem like a lot and there really is a lot going on at once, so you will never get bored. The writers are trying to show us some important aspects of Bumpy's life and relationships as they relate to some famous people we know - I imagine this was challenging to put together. Still, this is one of the best series showing us how street life, politics, & religion can become entwined into one mission when you look deeper into it. Or at least, as it ended up this way for Bumpy Johnson. These men kept changing and needing one another despite their disagreements and seemingly opposing values. Now I don't know if Adam C. Powell was this hilarious in real life, but in this series GianCarlos had me laughing out loud. I can't wait for season 2. 10 episodes is not enough. Godfather of Harlem is excellent storytelling. I don't want to give away any spoilers since most of us know a lot about these men anyway. You won't regret it.
  • Jan 31, 2020
    Loved it. Very strong stories and extremely compelling cast. I also thought they did a fantastic job with the imagery to represent the time period from clothing, cars, furnishings, accents to music. Was really impressed and very eager for a second season. This is a home run series.
  • Dec 29, 2019
    it was a great series. it has to continue. they left alot out from this same time frame in that era.
  • Dec 23, 2019
    A great insider look at American History in the '60s. The show is perfectly paced and every hook at the end of the episode had me wanting more. I can't wait for Season 2!
  • Dec 16, 2019
    Another smash from the creator of Narcos. I'm going to cry if this show is cancelled for some random reason!
  • Dec 12, 2019
    I used Amazon Prime to subscribe to Epix for this show. The series had me excited for Sunday. It was very entertaining and intriguing. I'm now waiting on season 2. If you want to go ahead and let me review season 2 early I'd be more than happy to do so!

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