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The Sopranos

The Sopranos: Born Under a Bad Sign

Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 336
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  • Book Info
    The Sopranos
    Book Description:

    Often hailed as one of the greatest television series of all time,The Sopranosis a product of its time, firmly embedded in the problems of post-industrial, post-ethnic America. InThe Sopranos: Born under a Bad Sign, Franco Ricci examines the groundbreaking HBO series and its impact as a cultural phenomenon.

    Ricci demonstrates an encyclopedic knowledge of the series, the genre, and their social context in his analysis of the show's complex themes and characters. He exploresThe Sopranos' deep engagement with problems of race, class, gender, and identity, specifically in its portrayal of the Italian-American experience, consumer and media-driven society, and contemporary psychosocial issues. The series' protagonist, Mafia boss and patriarch Tony Soprano, in many ways embodies the anxieties of our age. Focusing on Tony's internal struggles and interactions with his therapist, family, and associates, Ricci traces this archetypal character's existential conflicts and sheds light on his search for self, connection, and meaning.

    Comprehensive in scope and sophisticated in approach,The Sopranos: Born under a Bad Signis richly rewarding reading for anyone with an interest in the popular television drama, both as entertainment and social commentary.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-6881-2
    Subjects: Film Studies, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. Introduction: “Coming Heavy”: Revisiting, Rereading, Rethinking The Sopranos
    (pp. 3-21)

    The very question “What is TV?” has been given different answers since its inception and non-stop proliferation. Does it entertain? Does it educate? Does it or can it do both? When a premium cable TV network triumphantly declares “It’s not TV, it’s HBO,” a relevant question would be “Why?” A much more pertinent question, to my mind, is “How?” If you have picked up this text you have inquisitively, rather than passively, watched and thought aboutThe Sopranos. You have been bombarded from countless sources – TV advertisements, HBO merchandising, DVD box sets, popular books, blogs – that have given you a...

  5. Chapter One Inner Sanctums
    (pp. 22-76)

    The abundance of artworks and artistic artefacts inThe Sopranosis what lends the series its ironic bite and sardonic wit. The peppering of the sets with pop posters, commercial reproductions of art, kitsch murals, best-selling book covers, and modern statuary brews an interesting minestrone of intertextual quips and citations that explore a deeper understanding of the series and outlins life in twenty-first-century America. They enhance the decorum of the individual scenes and situate the story in a definitive temporal space that resides outside the series. These strategically placed images of artworks and artefacts subtly suggest that there is more...

  6. Chapter Two When I Grow Up I Want to Be an American
    (pp. 77-119)

    As the camera pans upwards from mud-caked boots, we see what appears to be a migrant worker slowly approaching a white clapboard country house (“Calling All Cars” 4.11). We recognize a stumbling and uncharacteristically hesitant Tony Soprano; nervous, sleeveless, wearing a sweat-stained undershirt, unshaven. His demeanour is reserved, his posture contrite. He knocks on the rickety screen door of the clapboard country house and respectfully waits, hands clasped and fidgeting in front of him in a typical sign of peasant submission. As he attempts to peer through the lace curtains, the inner door slowly and ominously creaks open. The camera’s...

  7. Chapter Three God Help the Beast in Me
    (pp. 120-159)

    Western culture has a long heritage of promoting the feminine and masculine principles within rigidly established schemata of what it means to be a woman and what it means to be a man. Subsequently, men and women have been locked into culturally defined gender roles that eschew difference and consider alterity and difference an unacceptable, if not potentially dangerous, ideological discourse. In the past, any demand for equality that posited sexual difference as a historical gender construct risked contradicting its own symbolic foundation. But being-man and being-woman are both primary forms. And so is difference. Human beings are not merely...

  8. Chapter Four Two Tonys: Drawing Conclusions from Mediated Mob Images
    (pp. 160-195)

    The TV screen frames a close-up of Christopher Moltisanti and Tony Soprano butting heads, locked together like virulent rams, eye to eye, chin to chin, hot breath to bellowing hot breath. Tony holds Christopher by the lapels, hovering over the younger thug in menacing pose, spouting vitriol, demanding respect (“Amour Fou” III.12). But we’ve seen this scene before. Years before, at the end of the pilot episode, a despondent Christopher pouts over Tony’s lack of recognition for his role in resolving the impending garbage dispute with the upstart Czechs. “A simple ‘Way to go Chris’ over the Triborough contract would...

  9. Chapter Five An Appendix of Verbal Bits and Visual Bytes
    (pp. 196-259)

    My first-year-university-level courseThe Sopranos: Cultural Contexts for Critical Thinking was conceived to examine the conceptual models about ethnic assimilation that have traditionally competed in North America and that have welded to form contemporary American society. Drawing upon HBO’s popular and perennially controversial series, I wanted students to probe notions of artistic representation and reconsider ways of interpreting, in this case, a television program. I hoped that by the end of the semester each student would develop a unique perspective on a particular aspect of the series and relate it to the world around them. I purposefully chose The Sopranos...

  10. Chapter Six Conclusion
    (pp. 260-266)

    In the fairs and market places of the world, in the bustle of street vendors, sideshow barkers, public masquerade, and liturgical rites, Mikhail Bakhtin finds pockets of resilience and resistance to the traditional power bases of state, church, and family.¹ In our present media-saturated age, where the image (imagos) reigns supreme and word-based orders of knowledge (logos) have been sapped by a new communication cyberspace, collective cultural consciousness often depends upon the same right-brain pattern skills that inspired Bakhtin to find evidence of a vibrant popular culture in the occurrences of everyday life. Today, these vital street images no longer...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 267-294)
  12. Suggested Readings
    (pp. 295-304)
  13. Episodes Index
    (pp. 305-308)
  14. Name Index
    (pp. 309-316)
  15. Subject Index
    (pp. 317-320)
  16. Title Index
    (pp. 321-324)