Thursday, December 10, 2015

Бригада / Brigada

There is this TV mini-series called Brigada. If you're Russian or Georgian, you already know this. If you're American, you probably haven't heard of it and you're missing out.
Every episode is on YouTube with English subtitles! If you're curious, start here.

Brigada is set in Russia in the 90s. The most traumatic, chaotic, lawless, wild, and tumultuous time in most people from the former Soviet Union's memory. The 90s were the Wild West, and the majority of people suffered greatly with the economy in shreds- savings lost, store shelves empty- and the Soviet dream of a better, cooperative, Communist world shattered. There were some, however, who capitalized on the chaos, who got lucky and took advantage of the situation. They learned the rules of the new system and quickly rose to the top- the oligarchs. Underpinning this thin uppercrust of new Russian society was a world of crime, drugs, dirty politics, and corrupt institutions which the oligarchs crawled out of. Brigada is the story of a brigade of young men who attempt to make lives for themselves in this world.

This story resonates deeply with young people in the former USSR. Mostly people who were kids in the 90s, watching their parents suffer and growing up with next to nothing. This was the time of bread lines, neighbors pooling money to buy meat and sharing it in outdoor barbecues, days without electricity or water. The story told in Brigada shows kids just like them finding success in the suffering, getting themselves and their families out of poverty by any means necessary. Also, friendship in Georgia is incredibly deep. It's a small country, and even in Tbilisi most people grow up in small, tight-knit communities. In the 90s, people bonded beyond blood. Brotherhood is a particularly stirring concept to behold, and Brigada expresses this "ride or die" (as we say in America) sentiment very well. Of course, the characters in the show are also cool as f*ck. They ride around in fancy cars, have the nicest clothes, casually amass arsenals of weapons, get all the hottest girls, and are immensely respected within the criminal gang hierarchy. The show has experienced something of a revival in popularity recently with the economic crisis- what 15 year old boy doesn't dream of trading in his parents' economic woes for the glamour and adrenaline of organized crime? 

Anyway...I love this show. I romanticize the post-Soviet 90s because I never experienced that suffering myself. I know it's a useless and perhaps even harmful romanticization of a painful period,  but I can't help it- Brigada rocks. 

Everyone should watch it! (here's that link again

and if you do get through it, check out some of my very random thoughts below

Caution- spoilers after the break!

  • I notice some product placement: Visine, Marlboro
  • Why is Sasha the only one married...?
  • We didn't even find out people's real names until episode 6
  • Why is there not even one female gangster? I think it would make sense and add dynamism
  • That baby would be my age now...
  • Farikkkkkkkkkkkkk   nooooooooooooo
  • Whoa, what happened to Arthur? They took his office and his secretary lol

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