Working with and for your loved ones in any professional setting is awkward, but it’s absolutely dangerous – and dangerously funny – when organized crime is their full-time job in the hilarious mob comedy series Family Business, presently streaming all four of its episodes on YouTube and co-created by actors/filmmakers Mersiha Musovic and Michael Deo (Working From Home, Baby Making Time).
Presenting viewers with perhaps the most dysfunctional fictional mob family since the Sopranos, Family Business co-stars Musovic as the focused yet frustrated heiress apparent to her clan’s mafia throne, Ivana, who’s long tired of having her slacker brother Goran (Andrew Huzar), her old-fashioned father/aging don Emin (Marcel Perro) and mom Lejia (Shelley Janze) stop her from taking their underworld dealings into the 21st century.
While Goran dreams of leaving his criminal lifestyle behind, Emin and Leija want Ivana to play the proverbial “good wife” to whichever man they try to hook her up with. All the while, Goran’s ineptitude and lack of commitment to the business makes every one of her hit jobs miserable assignments. As Ivana’s anger towards them grows, though, so does her motivation to become one of her generation’s most feared mob bosses. That is, if Goran’s ineptitude, her parents’ overreach and their chosen suitor doesn’t screw up Ivana’s plans for world domination first.
With the show’s bickering characters previously introduced in a short film developed by Musovic several years before Family Business debuted, she convinced Deo that her one-off comedy could reach its greatest potential as a full-fledged episodic project that packs all the family drama of The Sopranos and Succession with the morbid humorous stylings and offbeat characters found in Barry.
“I was in post-production for a short film called On The Job that was a comedy about siblings Ivana and Goran. When Michael and I started working together in 2019, I told him about that project and he immediately lit up with ideas on how to expand the core of that story into a dark comedy web series. We fleshed out the original concept and expanded the characters to bring in their parents and a few surprise members of the mob world.”
Considering it’s a story of family strife in the violent world of organized crime, the creative influences on Musovic and Deo’s series are obvious. ”The best way to describe the inspiration behind Family Business would be The Sopranos meets Succession,” they say. “There is no way that you can make anything in the mafia genre and not be inspired by The Sopranos and the ins and outs of that world, especially the family dynamic. The TV show Barry is another show that allowed us to see what you can do with a dark comedy within the old school mob world.”
Like The Sopranos and Barry, the themes of family conflict (in the former) and personal discovery (in the latter) are tinged with hilarity in Family Business, as its viewers will clearly enjoy. “People who like family drama would like the aspects of the story involving Ivana, Emin, and Lejla,” Musovic and Deo note. “For those of you who enjoy comedy, you’ll be immediately drawn to Goran and the silliness he brings to the story, and for anyone who enjoys a story with twists and turns, well, we’ve got a few of those waiting for you with Family Business.”
It’s also poised to be a favorite for people who haven’t yet found what they’re truly destined for. “If you love the show Barry, you will love Family Business,” its co-creators reply. “There are comedic aspects that are similar in both shows, and there’s also the core struggle that the protagonists from each show are dealing with. With Barry, it’s moving away from your old life, and with Ivana it’s trying to move further into the life she is in while being told she cannot.”
While Working From Home and Baby Making Time were lighthearted comedic showcases for Mersiha and Deo, Family Business’ dual layers of laughs and drama gave both filmmakers more to work with and more to balance, story-wise. “As writing and producing partners, our go-to genre has always been comedy, be it short films, sketches, or web series,” they say. “This was our first project that had more serious undertones, and it challenged us to go beyond our usual sensibilities with writing comedy.”
From that challenge came a chance for the duo to expand their comedic viewpoint in writing the show. “Family Business provided us with an opportunity to dig deeper into the themes and characters because of the more dramatic tone that the story lent itself to, but (because) comedy is our passion, we had to maintain some comedic moments within the story. The humor in Family Business is different from the typical style of comedy that we are normally delivering with our sketch comedy, and it was nice to be able to narrow in on darker comedic tones.”
Family Business was also the most complicated production undertaken by Mersiha and Deo thus far, with the stringent COVID-19 safety protocols as just one unavoidable part of a shoot that resumed production of its third episode nine months after the worldwide lockdown. When it resumed, both filmmakers immediately and carefully established a protective on-set environment.
“Our cast and crew know going into production that safety was first and foremost. To protect everyone we had strict protocols on set (masks on at all times, except for actors when the camera is rolling, temperature checks, sanitizing, individual packed snacks/lunches). We had to adjust to holding all of our meetings and table reads over Zoom, and we had to limit the number of people on set to make sure we could maintain social distancing.”
Although that shoot required more on-set personnel and even more sophisticated filming equipment than their past shows, Mersiha and Deo feel that the lessons they’ve learned from Family Business’ production will serve them well on their most ambitious project yet.
“It (making the show) allowed us the opportunity to grow as filmmakers, and showed us what we needed to do in the future as our projects grow in scale,” they add. “We are bringing in our newfound knowledge as we head into production on our first half-hour sitcom pilot, Roomhates.”
With Family Business as their latest creative achievement, Mersiha and Deo have more than audience success in mind for the fast-rising series. “Our main goal is that viewers are entertained by what they see,” they say. “We also hope that they can connect with Ivana, either as someone who is also overcoming gender roles or an ally who is working toward gender parity. We are also hoping the viewers see the progress that we as a producing/writing duo have made on our fourth web series together.”
NOTE: Family Business is not currently closed-captioned or subtitled.
Watch all four episodes of the show on YouTube: