TV Deep Focus: The Sopranos
Woke up this morning, turned on the TV, and watched The Sopranos.
“The Sopranos” started running on HBO in 1999 and ended in 2007 and follows the double lives of Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini), a mobster in northern New Jersey.
The theme of the show is family, but the perfect duality of it is that it’s shown in both Soprano’s biological family and his family in La Cosa Nostra.
Soprano finds himself having panic attacks early on in the show and sees a therapist, Dr. Melfi (Lorraine Bracco) on-and-off during the show’s duration. The irony: what kind of mob boss sees a therapist, tells her his secrets, and doesn’t get the both of them whacked?
Starting off with the show’s first season, the pilot episode consists of Tony recapping a panic attack to Melfi, which introduces his family and all the side characters through flashbacks. By the third episode, viewers feel like they are familiar with different characters and have a general understanding of the way that the show will go.
Tony’s immediate family consists of his wife, Carmela (Edie Falco) and kids, Meadow (Jamie-Lynn Sigler) and A.J. (Robert Iller), as well as his mother, Livia (Nancy Marchand). Tony tells Melfi right in the first episode that a lot of his stress comes from being a husband, father and son, especially with Carmela’s upstanding status and Livia’s constant victim mentality.
Tony becomes acting boss of the DiMeo family late in the first season, which means he gains more control over everyone’s loveable mobsters, including his nephew, Christopher Moltisanti (Michael Imperioli), Paulie Gualtieri (Tony Sirico) and Silvio Dante (Steven Van Zandt). Tony feels like the second half of his stress comes from fighting for control with his uncle, Corrado “Junior” Soprano (Dominic Chianese), who takes it to extremes to deal with Tony.
The show is filled with family drama and insane plot twists. The mob is a naturally complicated topic, but “The Sopranos” tackles the topic beautifully, especially dealing with both the North Jersey and New York mobs in the show.
Though the DiMeo family is fictional, the show pulls from famous mobsters of the time, for example, Tony talking about John Gotti while playing golf. Additionally, other fictional mob figures are referenced, like Silvio Dante doing his Michael Corleone impression for the group.
“The Sopranos” does it right and casts Italian American actors to play Italian American characters. Gandolfini, Bracco, Imperioli, Sirico, Falco and Chianese are Italian American, with a large portion of the supporting cast also of the ethnicity.
“The Sopranos” popularized Italian American culture and North Jersey slang, most notably, because nobody calls capicola by its name anymore (pass me the gabagool!). The show is also shot on-location in New Jersey, as the Soprano house is in North Caldwell and Satriale’s is in Elizabeth.
The show’s connecting film, “The Many Saints of Newark,” was released in 2021 and details the backstory of Dickie Moltisanti, Christopher’s father and Tony’s uncle. While the quality of the film has to be its own separate entity, die-hard fans of the show will appreciate character cameos, more mob action and a look at the man who made Tony Soprano.
The show has won two Peabody Awards. Gandolfini and Falco each won three Emmys for their roles as lead actors, and Imperioli, Joe Pantoliano and Drea de Matteo each won an Emmy for supporting actors.
Whether you’re from New Jersey and Italian or you just want to get invested in a good show, The Sopranos will surprise you, make you laugh and make you cry for six seasons.
Adrianna Gallucci is a first-year student majoring in journalism. To contact her, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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