Study Guide

Hap Farley in Boardwalk Empire

By Nelson Johnson

Hap Farley

Out of all of the Atlantic City's bosses, Hap Farley is the most legit. Sure, he rules over a cantankerous criminal underworld just like his predecessors, but he does it in a classy way. After all, the guy goes on to become a highly successful state senator, even becoming the senate majority leader at one point. In this way, Hap puts all of the contradictions inherent in Atlantic City into high relief.

Holy Hap

On the surface, Hap seems like an All-American guy. He rises from nothing, pulling himself up by his bootstraps and eventually becoming a respected state senator. He also happens to be really good at his job—Hap "loved being State Senator and worked tirelessly to become an effective legislator" (7.42). Unlike Nucky, who prefers life on the wild side, Hap is a simple dude with a "'monastic' […] devotion to Atlantic City's politics" (7.17). We can definitely think of worse descriptors for a local leader.

Bad Boys

As usual, though, the truth is a bit more complicated. Although Hap is a much friendlier fellow than Nucky, he does many of the same things—namely, ruling over Atlantic City's criminal underworld. Even if you don't think that booze and gambling should be illegal, we can all agree that this is some shady stuff for a state senator to be involved with. Hap might deeply care about politics, but that doesn't stop him from trying to line his own pockets at every available opportunity.

Son of Atlantic City

But that's just how Atlantic City goes. On one hand, it presents itself as a respectable resort town, the perfect spot for some family-friendly fun. But on the other, this image is just a front for the real hook of Atlantic City, which is its bounty of illegal activity. It's a doozy. Though Hap is involved in this tomfoolery as much as anyone, there's no denying that the guy does a lot for his city. More than anyone else, Hap "ruled with the most knowledge of government and restraint on unlawful excesses" (8.67). In a city that lures people with its excess, this really says a lot.