The first time I’d watched The Sopranos, a scene from one episode on a free pay TV weekend here in Canada, I didn’t know what it was. I thought of it as some goofy comedy I’d surfed to on my way to watching Everybody Loves Raymond. It wasn’t until the fall of 2000, when CTV, one of our national networks, decided to broadcast the entire series uncut, that I took interest.
Being Italian-Canadian, I felt the show typified, with realism, how I grew up in the rough part of the city. Back then, you either held your own or became the punching bag for those who needed to prove their worth to society. I didn’t need to prove anything. I knew who I was.
Some critics had panned The Sopranos for its often-brutal display of violence, nudity and coarse language. When reading their reviews, it became obvious those critics did not grow up on the streets, and had privileged lives in some Ivy League institution.
What I like most about The Sopranos is its portrayal of life being Italian-American. The food, the characters’ mannerisms, the dialect language, the food, the gorgeous vistas of Italy, the large families, the weddings, the food, all make up our culture in an extraordinary way.
At the center of every Italian family, keeping it together, ensuring we remain in contact with one another, that we don’t forget about each other in the good times, is mamma. In The Sopranos, mamma is Carmela Soprano, Tony’s wife. Since the events of the past few weeks are still fresh in everyone’s mind, I thought I’d include Carmela in my Women Who Wow Wednesday series.
Tony and Carmela married young. They were high school sweethearts who went to Montclair State University until dropping out. She’s a devout Roman Catholic who has issues with Tony’s dealings in the underworld. She feels he trusts her enough to confide in her with very limited “family” information. But her main focus is her own family, even if Tony’s behavior, running off at all hours of the night, threatens their marriage.
Although Carmela’s nature is that of a materialistic hoarder, in her loneliest times, when Tony’s not there to pay attention to her, she attempts to remain close to her faith. Despite her behavior, getting too close to other men in a play of sensual tension, she remains loyal to Tony. It isn’t until Tony admits to multiple affairs that she kicks him out of the house. Imagine that, Carmela Soprano kicks out her mob boss husband who in an instant could have her disappear into nothingness.
Regardless of what anyone might think of Carmela, she tries her best to live a life befitting the morals given to her by her loving parents and faith. She loves her children very much and keeps them safe, even brandishing an AK-47 if she hears an intruder at the window.
Whatever anyone says about The Sopranos, Carmela proves life in isolation can have a positive impact, in particular, the children.
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Have you ever seen The Sopranos? How has James Gandolfini’s death affected you?