As annoying as it is whenever non-fans come out of the woodwork to say, "I never got this show," I want to say some things about The Sopranos, and people's fixation on mafia culture.
I read Keith's review and Defamer's recap, as well as seeing a story on the CBS Evening News, but I know very little about the final Sopranos episode, aside from its ending. Truth to be told, I don't know much about the overall storyline of the series. But I tried. I repeatedly tried to get into this show over the years and I never fully made the leap. Allow me to explain.
Though I find The Godfather parts I and II fantastic movies, I've never understood the deep connection a lot of people claim to have with these stories. I hear about how mob stories are about the pursuit of the American dream. But I can't seem to understand how that's the case when there's machismo, violence, and murder in the mix. That was definitely not something I read about in my history books growing up. It's definitely not something I saw in my own family history or friends' family histories. Maybe that's why I couldn't really understand what was so compelling about The Sopranos.
As someone who doesn't know a lot about mafia culture, I couldn't really understand what the hell these guys were talking about when they were talking business. They might as well been IT guys talking computer networks and ISPs. However, whenever there would be scenes inside the Soprano's house, I could really relate. As a matter of fact, a number of those scenes portrayed a family dynamic way more realistically than anything else I had seen on TV. This was the saving grace.
That said, all the cheating, back-stabbing, and general gang-mentality distracted me. Who was I supposed to root for? Or was I not supposed to root for anyone? Was I supposed to accept this grim reality and stick with it from beginning 'til the end? This was definitely not something where I had sympathy right away (unlike say, opening with a plane crash and seeing the survivors trying to stay alive). Moreover, I felt like a detached observer to these people's dreary lives. How could I relate to a mob boss banging a prostitute while his wife has eyes for a younger man?
On top of this, merely explaining my feelings on the topic seems to warrant a very macho, "get-outta-here" response. Much like how I could not get depressed for a whole week because my favorite sports team lost a game, I don't feel that drawn into the world of mob bosses, drops and whacks. So I ask, what am I missing here? Is there a deeper thing about "keeping it in the family" that I don't get? Does my upbringing as a southern kid raised on Star Wars, The Muppets and The Cosby Show prevent me from understanding such?