"Southie Rules" is a half-hour reality series that follows the Niedzwieckis, a multi-generational family of townies living in a three-level house in an iconic working-class area of South Boston, as they embrace their own way of life and local traditions while battling yuppies who are invading their turf. The show airs the premiere episode, airing this Tuesday on A&E, Jan. 29, at 10 p.m
Official description: To yuppies, jumping in the frigid harbor on New Year's Day, housing three generations of a family under one roof, or never moving from the home you were born in may seem ridiculous, but the Niedzwieckis find Starbucks and sushi restaurants just as absurd.
In the Niedzwieckis' triple-decker home, all three floors are connected, with each floor claimed by a different wing of the family. On the top floor, Camille, the family's matriarch, and her ex-husband, Walter, still sleep in the same bed, making their relationship tricky -- he still loves her even though she's out dating and looking for a new man. Down the hall, their youngest son, Matt, lives with his girlfriend, Jenn, and their one-year-old daughter, Liana. Matt works at the family tattoo shop, but would rather let his baby mama dictate what he does, while burying himself in video games to avoid any drama. Meanwhile, Jenn is working hard at their relationship, especially since they've broken up like a million times since they first got together at age 15. On the middle floor, their oldest son, Jon, was recently relegated to the smallest room in the house because Matt became a new father. Outside the home, Jon manages the family's tattoo shop, and, almost immediately after he divorced his wife of nine months, he began dating Jessy, a hair-dresser from the suburbs, who often tries to hard to fit in with the family. Just feet away from where Jon sleeps, Matt's jobless friend, Devin, crashes on the family's couch most nights. On the ground floor, 39-year-old daughter Leah lives with her husband, Jarod, and their toddler, two-year-old Abby. Leah, a former probation officer and current stay-at-home mother, survived cancer, married a much younger man, and had a daughter, but now she's the glue that holds this family together.
For people who grew up outside the Greater Boston area, specifically those not around in the late 60s and 70s, the balkanized neighborhoods of Boston were fraught with danger at every turn.
North shore kids were hated by the South shore ones. Lynn was aways smoldering (Jewish Lightening was the un-PC official explanation) and filled with Puerto Ricans and blacks. Roxbury was black; Marblehead was upper middle-class Jewish; Point of Pines was the land of uppity Italians and nearby Revere was nicknamed "Severe" for the intensely Guido-esque lower-class "Guineas" who lived there.
Revere used to be a pretty even mix of Jews and Italians in the 1920s to the 1950s, but those that made it eventually settled in Newton (Jews) and Somerville or Belmont (Italians). Winthrop was a sedate mix of everything. East Boston and the North End was hardcore Italian. And everyone stayed the hell of Charlestown.
I grew up in Nahant, a small two island community dangling off of Lynn and Swampscott, with Boston visible off of Bass Point in Big Nahant. The head of the New England crime family lived there, and it was a pretty mixed heavily Catholic community (Italian, Irish, Greek, a few WASP scions, a bit of Polish) and nothing bad happened on the surface. Trust me that terrible things did happen there.
The Irish stronghold always was Southie or South Boston, a place so tough that white people who didn't have a familial connection to it avoided the area like the plague. Southie kids were not us, and vice versa.
I had high hopes for “Southie Rules,” a reality series that employs subtitles in case you cannot understand when people say “wicked” and the ever Boston Irish habit of hollering "Da and Ma!”
The neighborhood depicted in this series is not what I remembered of it, in folklore and passing through as a kid. It appears cleaner, nicer and less...Irish.
My favorite rendition of a Southie stereotype is put on YouTube - the real housewives of Southie, worth checking out:
So what we get now is the Boston neighborhood replete with wiseasses and packies, classic triple-deckers and townies who have atrocious taste in denim and despise yuppies and love Boston sports.
“Southie Rules” revolves around the Niedzwiecki family, so not Irish!
The matriarch is an earner and the regulator of the family and the boys and husband are the screw ups. There's no real story other than "ruh roh" calamity avoiding vignettes constructed around the fact that a bunch of rotten kids need to be babysat, bills are due and someone needs to get a job.
Like "Duck Dynasty," there's a ton of contrivance here, but what makes Dynasty work is that the Robertson family is genuinely funny and they instill a bit of life lessons and heart in their televised malarky. This one (based on just seeing the pilot) needs to elevate their reality TV game to keep an audience.
Leah Lentini Winters