I Love The Sopranos

The genius of The Sopranos (I know, again) is its deeply psychological writing. The quality of its portrayal of each characters’ psyche is the one thing that puts it above all other shows. It shows both the aggressive, violent destroyer and the screaming, terrified baby inside us all, and it shows that both these personas come from the same root. The racism and the anxiety of Tony Soprano, for example, are intrinsically linked. Immediately after telling one of Meadow’s black friends to ‘stay with his own’, Tony eats some turkey slices and has a panic attack. He acts like an invulnerable man in control, and then he loses grip on his own consciousness. The violence is an act to hide from the fear. His aggression and prejudices are all just things he has made to distract him from himself. Tony is petrified of losing his power, his muscles, his respect, everything, and the only way he avoids paralysis is by violently lashing out and asserting his power. This is also illustrated when he ends up in a bout of paranoia over post-9/11 terror threats, and resolves his fear by pummeling Georgie with a phone. Again, it is illustrated after he gets out of his coma, and fearing that he has lost some of his stature, pummels his driver unprovoked in front of everybody. Then he goes and throws up in the bathroom. It’s like on some level he knows what he is, and he can’t handle it, but he always manages to avoid that relentless truth. Hence the full lyrics of the opening song: “Last night you was flying but today you’re so low” and “Don’t you wish you didn’t function/Don’t you wish you didn’t think/Beyond the next paycheck and the next little drink”. It’s this kind of complete portrayal of a self-hating lizard brain that makes the series a masterpiece.

One other Sopranos thing – they’re all gossip queens. Ralph almost dies over a joke but the entire crew had made jokes far worse on the same subject all throughout the series. It’s all about what you can get away with. There really are no rules. Just as with all systems of power.