The brilliant mind of Taylor Sheridan has given us some stellar films like Sicario and redefined the Western genre with masterpieces like Hell or High Water and the Yellowstone franchise. At times, it feels the 52-year-old writer, director, and producer just has the magic touch and can simply do no wrong. Sheridan proved this once again when he created a new show on a whim.
That show became Tulsa King, a Sylvester Stallone-led mob show with some unconventional tropes thrown in. The entire concept may seem a little strange, but with Stallone’s strong style and Sheridan’s brilliant flair as a filmmaker, it’s become yet another hit show for the latter. Despite its slightly outlandish concept, the show’s popularity with viewers has many of them wondering if any of it is actually based on a true story. The truth is a little more complicated but just as entertaining.
The Novelty of Tulsa King
Tulsa King sees veteran superstar Sylvester Stallone playing New York mafia capo, Dwight “The General” Manfredi. After serving a 25-year prison sentence, Manfredi is unceremoniously exiled to a small town in Tulsa with orders to take it for the mob. Despite being a fish out of the water, Manfredi throws together a rag-tag team of enforcers and gets to work. The novelty of it all, coupled with its grit and violence has made it a real hit with viewers, with Stallone still impressively commanding the screen as well as ever, even at the age of 76.
Tulsa King’s immediate popularity led to it being confirmed for a second season after just three episodes. Now that the second season is in the works, fans have been deconstructing the show and trying to research Manfredi’s character and the Invernizzi mob family from the show to see if the outfit is based on any actual mobsters. The short answer to this question is no, but there is some basis in reality for where the idea of the show came from.
The True Mob Story it Feels Like
While Taylor Sheridan hasn’t confirmed that Tulsa King was based on any real mafia events, many fans have drawn comparisons between the show and the famous Inzerillo crime family of Palermo, who was banished to New York.
According to ScreenRant, this is how the real-life story of the Inzerillos played out and why it may have inspired Tulsa King:
“The story in Tulsa King may draw inspiration from the Inzerillo family and their relationship with the mafia. In a successful bid to take leadership of the Sicilian mafia, Salvatore Riina and the Corleonesi faction of the mafia nearly exterminated the Inzerillo family and their other rivals throughout the ’70s. After the Gambinos and the Inzerillos’ other American allies intervened on the family’s behalf, Salvatore Riina allowed the Inzerillos to escape his wrath, provided they leave and never set foot on Sicilian soil ever again.”
If this is true, it means Tulsa King is essentially a dramatized and flipped version of this true-life tale. However, unlike a Sicily to New York banishment, in Tulsa King, Manfredi is exiled from New York to another part of the same country, a more rural one where he sticks out like a sore thumb.
The deeper reasons behind the show’s chief plot will probably be elucidated more in upcoming seasons, so it’s probably a little premature to pair the two stories together just yet, as their similarities may just be a happy coincidence. Whether the Ivernizzis of Tulsa King and the Inzerillos of reality are connected, the confirmed story behind how the show came to be is just as fascinating all on its own.
How Tulsa King Was Created
The real story behind how Tulsa King came to fruition is a great story on its own — one that speaks volumes about the brilliance of Taylor Sheridan. In November last year, it was reported by The Hollywood Reporter that after Taylor Sheridan heard from his co-producer, David Glasser, that Sylvester Stallone was interested in making a Sopranos-style mob show, he reputedly wrote the pilot for the show in less than 24 hours.
“Taylor starts to spitball the idea of a fish out of water story for an hour. Then, Saturday afternoon at 4 p.m., he goes, ‘Check your inbox.’ There is a script he’s already written called Kansas City King, and it’s incredible.”
Given Taylor Sheridan’s reputation for being an inventive and frenetic writer, it certainly sounds like him to pull off something so audacious as Tulsa King in such a short time. With Yellowstone having been expanded into a sweeping franchise from the mind of Sheridan and under his stewardship, it seems only natural that he’s the kind of creative genius that can come up with a hit show in under a day. Regardless, of whether the show is based on reality or not, the true story behind its conception by the prolific and brilliant creator is captivating enough.