The Offer

The Offer season 1





Emily Tsiao

TV Series Review

Everyone knows about The Godfather. Starring Marlon Brando, James Caan, Robert Duvall and Al Pacino, it won the Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay in 1973. Two years later, The Godfather: Part II won even more awards, becoming the first sequel to win a Best Picture Oscar.

So even if you haven’t seen it, you’ve probably witnessed its pop culture impact. In You’ve Got Mail,Tom Hanks’ character suggests that all of life’s problems can be solved by watching the famous flick. George Clooney’s Danny Ocean repeats lines from the film to Al Pacino’s Willy Bank in Ocean’s Thirteen. And franchises from The Sopranos and The Simpsons to Star Wars and Rugrats have paid homage with recreations of certain scenes.

But what you might not know is how difficult it was to create the Oscar-winning film. And that’s what The Offer is all about.

Paramount Makes an Offer

Mario Puzo (author of the book the movie was based on) was hesitant to even write the story, according to this splashy Paramount+ series. He was in debt to a mobster at the time and feared that penning a novel about the mafia would earn him a bullet in the head.

But under the encouragement of his wife, he wrote it anyway, focusing on the family aspect more so than the gang one.

Robert Evans, a studio executive for Paramount, was so impressed that he bought the movie rights for $15,000 before it was even published. Unfortunately, due to budget overages, Evans nearly lost those rights when another studio offered Paramount $1 million for it.

He did his little dance and finagled his way into keeping the script, but Paramount gave him a low budget so the studio could maximize returns. And that meant picking a producer, a director and a writer willing to create a movie for next to nothing.

Evans hired Al Ruddy (whose experience this story is based on), a new—and therefore, cheap—producer, to helm the project. Inexperienced but bold, Ruddy broke a lot of filmmaking rules to make The Godfather happen. He hired Puzo to write the script despite being advised against it. Then, when Puzo panicked about not being able to accomplish the daunting task, Ruddy brought Francis Ford Coppola in to help. (Again, against advisement.)

Coppola doubled as director, as well. But his prioritization of art over budget nearly stopped the film from being made. He wanted the film shot on location in New York City and Sicily. He wanted to stick with the time period of Puzo’s original story. He wanted the then-unknown Al Pacino to play the lead. And he wanted the legendary Marlon Brando to play the Godfather himself. All of which cost a lot more money than the studio was willing to dole out.

But Ruddy, despite his inexperience, was relentless. This film would make or break him, he decided. He backed up his writer and director to get the actors and film locations they wanted. And even when he (and others working on the film) were physically threatened by the mafia, he never gave up.

And as we know, The Godfather made it to the big screen, becoming the highest-grossing film of 1972 and, for a time, the highest-grossing film ever made.

We Can Refuse

The Offer tells a compelling story, especially for those interested in film history. But it’s also rated TV-MA, which shouldn’t be surprising since the film that inspired it was also rated R.

In the first episode alone, there are 40 uses of the f-word, among other profanities. We witness sex and nudity on screen. People smoke, drink and use drugs. And violence, much like The Godfather, is prevalent, with everything from thugs roughing people up to putting dead, still bleeding animals in producers’ beds.

So while Paramount+ has certainly made us an offer, it’s one that many can and will refuse.

Episode Reviews

Apr. 28, 2022 – S1, Ep1: “A Seat at the Table”

When Mario Puzo writes his famous novel, The Godfather, Paramount hires Al Ruddy to turn it into a movie.

A couple has sex (and we see the woman’s breasts). Women sit in men’s laps. Many couples kiss. There are many sexual jokes and comments, including some crude descriptions of women. There’s a reference to masturbation. Someone says the mafia runs “wh-res.” Bob Evans flirts with many women despite having a girlfriend. There are hints of sexual misconduct referring to actresses having private meetings with studio executives. We see some women in revealing outfits and swimsuits.

Puzo is punched multiple times by a debt collector. (We later see bruises on his face.) Later, when he’s manhandled by an upset entertainer, he grabs a fork and nearly stabs the man. Someone shoots out the back window of Ruddy’s car as a warning. A man is criticized for lowering the interest rate on a family’s debt due to an ill grandchild. However, the man explains the family only has six months to repay the money before he kills them, starting with the sick child. Someone is threatened with a fire poker. A man instructed to kill two men chooses to warn them instead. There’s a nonchalant reference to suicide. We hear a lot of talk about mafia violence.

People smoke and drink throughout. There’s lots of lies and manipulation. We hear the mafia steals and controls gambling. There are jokes about Nazis. We hear a few racial slurs and stereotypes. We hear a woman is divorced.

We hear 40 uses of the f-word, as well as “a–,” “h—” and the s-word. God’s name is abused four times (twice paired with “d–n”), and Christ’s name is abused five times.

When Puzo’s wife asks Ruddy to watch her husband’s diet (because he has diabetes), Puzo tells his wife that Ruddy is a Jew and can’t swear a Catholic blood oath. A picture of the pope and a crucifix hang in a house. Someone says a man is “more connected than God.” The Godfather is compared to the Bible. Rosemary’s Baby, a film about a Satanic cult, is mentioned.

Apr. 28, 2022 – S1, Ep2: “Warning Shots”

Al Ruddy runs into production problems with opposition from the mafia and disagreements with the studio.

We see a woman’s breasts. Several couples make out and one nearly has sex. A woman lies in bed undressed, covered by blankets. Some women wear revealing outfits and swimsuits. There are references to male genitals. A woman says she caught her ex-husband cheating on her.

Bob Evans finds a dead rat placed in his bed as a warning. A man threatens Ruddy with a gun. Someone threatens to stab a man in the throat. We see several men preparing guns in the backroom of a restaurant. A woman tells stories about how she survived the Nazis and later stood up to the mafia. Ruddy and his assistant are told that the gunshot which destroyed his car window in the previous episode was a warning, not an attempted murder. A man recounts getting beaten up by a bully as a child. Someone says that greed will often lead to murder under the guise of business. We hear a lot of talk about mafia violence.

People smoke and drink throughout. We also see some people using drugs at a party. A woman says she won’t drink Irish whiskey because the Irish remained neutral in World War II. We hear about racial stereotypes. Francis Ford Coppola grows discouraged when the studio tries to hire white actors to play non-white characters. A woman says skirts are a “symbol of the past.”

There are 60 uses of the f-word, as well as “a–,” “b–tard,” “d–k,” “h—,” “p-ss” and the s-word. God’s name is abused four times (three times paired with “d–n”), and Christ’s name is abused another four.

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Emily Tsiao

Emily studied film and writing when she was in college. And when she isn’t being way too competitive while playing board games, she enjoys food, sleep, and geeking out with her husband indulging in their “nerdoms,” which is the collective fan cultures of everything they love, such as Star Wars, Star Trek, Stargate and Lord of the Rings.

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