Reviewed by Vidyut Iyer, Kirit P. Mehta School of Law
It’s been 14 years since HBO’s iconic series ‘The Sopranos’ came to an end. The Sopranos is indubitably the paradigm-shifting tv show that irrevocably changed the structure of television shows for the better. Created by David Chase, The Sopranos expatiates on the life of New Jersey mob boss Anthony Soprano and his battle with depression, as he attempts to balance his family life with his role as the boss of the Soprano family.
At first glance, the Sopranos seems like an extension of any Martin Scorsese mob film. The characters are memorable and nearly all of them speak in the quintessential Italian American New Jersey accent. The protagonist, Tony Soprano is indubitably the show’s most memorable character and possibly the most loved anti-hero in television history. Throughout the show, Tony Soprano faces a series of panic attacks and furtively visits his therapist, Dr Jennifer Melfi. Tony Soprano ranges from a meek, empathetic father to a livid, vindictive mafioso who belligerently bludgeons anyone who infuriates him. Tony Soprano also portrays a run off the mill American dad at times. He’s jingoistic, he hosts family barbecues and he’s a history buff who fervently supports the United States.
Played by the late James Gandolfini, Tony Soprano is a man who defies the conventional nature of a protagonist. He’s not completely callous and nearly everything he does is for his family. The grassroots of Tony’s depression can be traced back to his relationship with his mother. His mother, Olivia Soprano was a pessimist and an abusive mother.
Tony ardently expressed his contempt and hatred for her, mainly because she sucked the joy out of the lives of the Soprano children – Tony, Janice and Barbara. Tony’s relationship with his immediate family is pretty normal. Both his wife and children are aware of the fact that Tony is part of the Mafia and throughout the series, we see how Tony’s profession manifests itself in the lives of his children. His wife, Carmela Soprano, is a compassionate, loving and supportive mother.
Although Tony and Carmela have had their highs and lows, they have always managed to weather the storm. Played by the phenomenal Edie Falco, Carmela is also jingoistic and believes in the preservation of her Italian heritage, much like all the characters in the show.
Perhaps the most important relationship in the show is that of Tony Soprano and Jennifer Melfi. “Throughout the series, we have seen how Dr Melfi changes Tony’s outlook and attempts to eradicate his prejudices. Whenever Tony is in a quagmire, whether personal or professional, he seeks Jennifer Melfi’s advice. Dr Melfi is the one who helped Tony discern the genesis of his depression. Without Tony Soprano, there would be no Walter White.” ~ Vince Gilligan, creator of Breaking Bad.
The release of the Sopranos is incontrovertibly the most pivotal moment in television history. It introduced the multitudes to the best of worlds – A soap opera, combined with nerve-racking drama.