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Poignant, gripping and addictive, the Italian family saga The Promised Life is set to make its debut in the US tomorrow.

The Promised Life Luisa Ranieri
The Promised Life: Luisa Ranieri as Carmela Carrizzo — Photo courtesy of Acorn TV

The Promised Life (La vita promessa) revolves around Carmela Carizzo (Luisa Ranieri, Luisa Spagnoli, Letters to Juliet), a beautiful and courageous woman who moves to America with her family to give all of them a better life, only to find that she hasn’t escaped what she thought she left behind.

The first episode, which could be titled “Bad Things Happen to Good People,” opens in 1921 Sicily, where Carmela, her husband Salvatore (Marco Foschi, Aldo Moro: 55 Days to Death), and four of their five children farm the land of the unscrupulous and violent Vincenzo Spanò (Francesco Arca, Spectre, Tuscan Passion); their son Rocco works as a shepherd for Spanò.

Spanò has been hot for Carmela ever since she arrived Sicily, so all the brute needs is the slightest provocation to get Salvatore out of the way. Permanently. And he gets it.

Carmela’s situation is now desperate — she and her children must leave Italy or lose everything to Spanò. So with the help of the local priest, the family escapes to Naples, where they stay with the colorful Assunta Moggi (Lina Sastri, My Italy), who runs a boarding house with her lover.

And Carmela does what needs must in the hope of getting to America: marry by proxy Matteo Schiavon (Andrea Pennacchi, The Ladies’ Paradise), a Venetian widower and long-time New York resident. But having a husband in America is just one requirement for Carmela and her family to get passage on the ship sailing there; the other is a minimum of one thousand lire for the tickets. Which she doesn’t have.

Finally, the day comes when the Carizzos can board the ship to begin their lives anew in America. Except another tragedy befalls the family just as they are about to leave.

And all that is just in the first episode!

In the rest of the first half of the season, the narrative is split between events on the ship, where Carmela meets the kind and wealthy Mr. Amedeo Ferri (Thomas Trabacchi, Thou Shalt Not Kill, Back Home); in New York, where the Carrizos are now the Rizzo-Schiavon family; in Naples, where Assunta helps a young couple before they set sail for America; and in Sicily, where Spanò desperately seeks information about Carmela’s whereabouts.

I’m hooked on The Promised Life and will be getting back to it asap so I can see what else happens to Carmela et al and how the first season ends. (The second season is expected to debut on RAI in Italy in early 2020.)

Costarring Cristiano Caccamo (The Ladies’ Paradise) and Flavio Furno (Rocco Schiavone), The Promised Life premieres in the US tomorrow, October 14, exclusively on Acorn TV and its digital channels, including Acorn TV on Amazon.


Acorn TV Channel on Amazon

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The Promised Life: Italian Family Saga Is Binge-Worthy
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