Monday, April 09, 2007

Bada Bing

The Sopranos returned last night for Season Six, Part II, a nine-episode victory lap toward the finish line of television immortality. Last night's episode, "Soprano Home Movies," didn't disappoint, offering the usual mix of foreshadowing, melancholy, violence, denial, banality, intimidation, and family dysfunction that regular viewers are used to seeing.

The episode provided a lot to chew on, much of which will lead to nothing if past history is any guide (if you are still waiting for The Big Russian to return, it is time to let that go). But, still, there were more ducks; talk of a brain-damaged kid; reference to DNA by Bobby before he left part of his shirt with his first-ever whackee; and, most ominous of all, a humiliated Tony combined with home movies of his childhood and tales of Mama Livia, both supplied by the kookily sinister Janice. This should be good.

Part of the genius of The Sopranos is its writers' ability to communicate its core messages in as little as a single line of dialogue. Last night, for example, in a scene occurring the day after the brawl between Tony and Bobby, Carmela says to a nervous Janice: "Tony is not a vindictive man." There it is: she is at once a denier, which allows Carmela to love her husband and live with and benefit from her marriage to a Mob boss, and an enabler, which allows Carmela to help her husband be all he can be by assisting in his charade of rationality, even with someone who obviously knows better. As great as James Gandolfini is, it is Edie Falco's Carmela who is the straw that stirs The Sopranos' drink.

On a train ride home today, I was reading The Survivor, an account of the Clinton White House years by John Harris. Harris describes an attempt by a family friend to try to get Hillary to accept that her husband did, in fact, have a sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky, despite his claims to the contrary. "You have to face the fact that something about this might be true," the friend warned. "'Look, Bob,' Hillary Clinton responded. 'My husband may have his faults, but he has never lied to me.'"

And that is when it hit me: The Sopranos is about the Clintons. It is all there: the ambition, of both spouses; the use and misuse of power; the use of people for their own benefit, and then their dispatch when their continued presence proves costly, uncomfortable, or simply undesirable; the sense that the usual rules don't always apply, often followed by the reliance on others to clean up the mess that has been made; the use of lower-level associates to both carry out unpleasant tasks and provide insulation when things don't always turn out as had been hoped; the repeated promises of changes to come; and, of course, wives who deny and enable, all the while prospering greatly from the relationship and using it to their own advantage when necessary.

Or maybe The Sopranos is about something, or somebody, else. Stay tuned.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmmmm - can't the same be said for all successful partnerships?
One could, after all, say the same thing about W and his brain, Karl Rove; or, for that matter, W and Laura; or Nancy and Ron. My guess is that the Google guys probably even have a good bit of it. Or maybe even every successful marriage. Yikes.
-- A friend in Philly

11:47 AM  

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