The Real Rizzuto Family From 'Bad Blood' Was Just As Influential As Their Fictional Counterparts
The Canadian series turned Netflix drama Bad Blood follows the Rizzuto family, who ran the organized crime scene in Montreal for years. The show blends fact and fiction when it comes to depicting the inner workings of the Canadian mob. The real Rizzuto family from Bad Blood isn't exactly like their fictional counterparts, but they did provide a ton of inspiration for the series.
The first season of the show was based on a book about the family called Business or Blood: Mafia Boss Vito Rizzuto's Last War by Peter Edwards and Antonio Nacaso. It revolved around the last decade or so of real life crime boss Vito Rizzuto's (Anthony LaPaglia) life. The Rizzutos were centered in Montreal, where they engaged in "large-scale construction fraud, drug trafficking, extortion, bribery, stock manipulation, loansharking, and money laundering," according to Macleans. In the process, they made millions.
A major figure in Season 1 was Vito's second in command, Declan Gardiner (Kim Coates). Refinery29 reported that Declan was entirely fictional, though he may have been based on a real man who was involved with the Rizzuto family named Raynald Desjardins. By the end of the first season, Declan had ascended to a powerful position within the organization, thanks to Vito's death. Elevating a mostly-fictional character meant that Season 2 departed even further from real events. Both seasons are streaming on Netflix currently.
While the Rizzuto family engaged in their fair share of violence, Macleans reported that Vito's real skill was in forging alliances between various groups, leaders, and public officials. As depicted in Season 1 of Bad Blood, things began to unravel for Vito when he was arrested and deported to the United States in 2004 because of his connection to the 1981 murders of three captains in the Bonanno crime family. While in prison, Vito's father Niccolo and oldest son Nick were killed, and his illegal dealings took a major hit without him around to keep a lid on everything.
Vito returned to Canada in 2012 and passed away a year later due to "natural causes," according to the Montreal Gazette. Fans of Bad Blood saw almost all of those events unfold on the show, though it took a different turn in its second season. But even though it has left real life behind for the realms of fiction, there is a seed of truth to the idea of the story continuing past Vito's death. The mafia scene in Canada didn't come to a grinding halt without Vito. In fact, Vice reported that mob hits were still occurring in 2016, as power continued to shift between various figures. Though it appears to be more scattered without Vito Rizzuto, the violence hasn't stopped.
There was definitely some embellishment when it came to the depiction of the real Rizzuto family in Bad Blood, even though many key moments in their lives did make it to the screen. And just like in real life, everything changed after Vito's arrest and death. The show is just taking a different path when it comes to imagining what might have happened in the aftermath.