Boris is always Boris —

The Simpsons, Futurama, Family Guy, South Park. Many people born in the 80s or 90s will have asked themselves a thousand times: why can’t Italy produce something similar? Is it really impossible to satirize our country by proposing a marketable product and at the same time capable of freeing itself from the too many compromises that water down most of the films and series that today crowd streaming platforms and once the schedules of television channels? The good critical and public reception of the fourth season of Boris, available from the end of October on Disney+, has finally filled a generational void.

Boris is back 12 years after season 3 and is Boris 100%. It tells with irreverence, irony and poetry the distortions with which we all collide every day at work, at school, in the family, everywhere.

Needless to go around it, the challenge was complex and full of pitfalls: bringing back a cult project after more than a decade was a huge risk for the writers, actors and producers. Yet the miracle happened thanks above all to an always brilliant, irreverent and recognizable writing but which also has a new nuance, never nostalgic but certainly more mature than the past and which occasionally indulges in peaks of never banal sentimentality.

The eight episodes in which the vicissitudes of the band led by Ferretti/Pannofino are recounted as they grapple with a new film project (“The life of Jesus”) are held together by the invisible thread of the homage to Mattia Torreone of the three creators of Boris, who passed away in 2019. In stage fiction the figure of the author is entrusted to Valerio Aprea and his every joke is a caress to longtime fans of the series. We are moved in the fourth season of Boris and we do it sincerely, with an open heart and without that sinister feeling of having been induced to cry by some scruffy screenwriter who knows an arithmetic formula to force the viewer to lower his defenses.

The sincerity of the relationship between the writer/performer and the viewer is the pillar of the success of the series but it is also what will amaze newbies. The media exposure of Boris 4 is immensely greater than that of the first three seasons aired on Fox , passed almost quietly into the mainstream and then recovered over the years thanks above all to the network first and then to Netflix, and therefore the pool of potential audiences is necessarily wider. Fifteen years ago it would have been unthinkable, just to name one, to see part of the cast interviewed for 20 minutes on Rai as happened on Cattelan’s late show a few days ago.

Boris 4 has therefore already won because while staying true to itself it has made the leap, it has become popular in the best sense of the termjust like Homer Simpson and Peter Griffin, American pop icons we’ve clung to for too long in the absence of an anti-hero of our own, that René Ferretti who talks and eats like us, gets pissed and plots behind his colleagues’ backs as happens to do to us, but which after all is only a sort of winner of Verga, a bit like a Fantozzi, has strengths and weaknesses that make us laugh at and with him and that perceive us as comforters.

However, one of the strengths of the fourth version of Boris, as well as the previous ones, is that it is a choral work and certainly not dominated by a single character. Indeed, the strong characterization of every single human being who appears on stage is perhaps the main ingredient of the success of the series. In the fourth season we find Stanis and Corinna who have become husband and wife, the former slave-intern Alessandro instead has made a career and is responsible for Italy for a streaming platform, the eternal assistant director Arianna has become a mother and is in crisis with his partner, Biascica is still the chief electrician on the sets.

Some characters come back to the viewer changed, at least in appearance, while others are exactly in the same position in which we left them 12 years ago: it is a credible situation, it is what would happen if each of us inquired about a handful of acquaintances , perhaps former work colleagues who have been lost for a while. However, as the episodes go by, just as happens during a pizza party with high school classmates, the true essence of the participants resurfaces with arrogance, one has the feeling of going back in time (the senior class neighbor is now an esteemed professional but after a couple of beers he still talks about his legendary skills under the sheets, just like twenty years ago, between one exaggeration and another).

For example Alexander, initially presented as a rampant digital entertainment manager, soon returns to being dominated by Stanis’ wickedness just like at the beginning of the first season. Likewise Ducciowho reappears as a director of photography appreciated even abroad, proves to be the usual irresistible slacker slob, always ready to delegate the work to his subordinates.

The themes addressed in Boris 4 are many, all very current. The satire, social, customary and even political, is as sharp and inspired as ever. In the eight episodes, the reflection on the politically correct is the master. The US platform that produces “The life of Jesus” imposes a course on inclusiveness on the members of the cast and the workers and during one of the lessons Biascica learns that from now on he will have to use the neutral gender to give orders to his slaves, for don’t hurt anyone’s sensitivity: so “Ammerda”, he asks the teacher, should be replaced with “Ammerdu”? In another episode Lopez will even pretend to be homosexual to demonstrate to the Americans that the cast is more rainbow than ever.

These and other comic gimmicks, as well as being a precise fresco of the average Italian grappling with the changing world, are clear references to Disney, producer of the series: it is the same mechanism used by the Simpsons’ father Matt Groening towards Fox , the network that has always been close to the American right but which decided to focus on the yellow family despite the liberal connotation of the series and some satirical lunges against the owner of the network Rupert Murdoch.

The fourth season, as mentioned, clears Boris as a pop phenomenon and those who have decided to focus on the product, sure of a good economic return, have willingly accepted to be mocked.

Returning to the characters from season four, it’s impossible to leave out Marian, the psychopathic actor played by Corrado Guzzanti. The Roman comedian gives the audience real virtuoso solos, scenes and situations in which the absurd component imposes itself and almost stops the flow of the plot of the episode. Guzzanti, who has been given almost total creative freedom, plays in a non-time, seems to float on the series, he is the playmaker who with his unthinkable plays embellishes a team that has the strongest squad in the championship. “I was part of a group of Satanists in the PD area. Because this is the time to broaden consensus, to open up” Mariano says to poor Arianna who tries to convince him to hand over the gun that she caresses obsessively.

The jokes about the father, who Mariano wants to cremate against the will of the old man, are also sensational. And above all while the poor fellow is still alive.

Net of the more or less shareable considerations on the role of Boris in the history of Italian seriality, it is difficult to deny an assumption that emerged in the days immediately following the release of the new season and that is that Boris is funny. A lot and in different ways. He succeeds without falling into the easy joke, with a balanced mix of sarcasm and cynicism, analyzing serious issues (among others organized crime) in an apparently light-hearted way but in reality with a lucidity which products born for purposes other than laughter often lack.

Technically speaking we are not facing a perfect season: the parable of certain characters, see Stanis and Corinna, remains suspended and in general the feeling is that a fifth season is possible. Insiders like Boris 4 and the first rumors speak of excellent data recorded on Disney +. Without spoilers, net of a moving ending that could very well represent the last chapter of Boris, a multitude of subplots remain pending from which to start again to write new chapters. Ciarrapico and Vendruscolo could decide to continue or to stop, the two authors have not yet pronounced themselves regarding the future of the series.

Boris is always Boris —