TV Club

Is The Sopranos Anti-Italian?


Is Gaspipe Casso the guy who killed his architect because he didn’t like the poor shlamazel’s drawings? Or maybe it was an overbilling issue? I seem to remember several years ago driving out to Sheepshead Bay or its environs to look at the house in question, and also to buy some fish, but my memory once again is failing me, and I can’t find my notes—I know it was a Luchese family capo, because only the Lucheses (OK, maybe not only) would do such a thing.

Man, you’re really pushing Melfi, huh? To paraphrase Jan Brady, “Melfi, Melfi, Melfi.” This is for a longer discussion, I think, but I don’t think Melfi serves Tony’s interests, and I know she doesn’t serve the interests of my attention span. She used to, of course—through the first three or four seasons of therapy. But therapy doesn’t work on the guy, it never has, plus I find Lorraine Bracco—as much as I loved her as the Jewish moll in Goodfellas—dreary and without affect. Sorry, is she a friend of yours? More to the point—re: my personal safety—is she a friend of ours? (As in, the “Our Friends Social Club,” in Ozone Park.)

I thought last night’s episode was just fine. (I’m with you on Curb Your Enthusiasm, however.) This is the thing about early-in-the-season Sopranos episodes: They sometimes feel disjointed because the writers are introducing—and reintroducing—18 different story lines. By the sixth episode or so, everything is usually telegraphed efficiently. One sure way to keep the series fresh is to recruit every great Italian-American actor in existence into the cast; last night was Steve Buscemi’s turn, which is a great thing for viewers. He’s a wonderful actor, and director—have you seen Trees Lounge, his masterful film about Long Island anomie? (Now I’m shilling). Are you from Long Island? I am. South Shore. Proud of it, on occasion. It’s better than being from New Jersey.

OK, here’s a question we might as well dispense with early on in the season: Tell me about your sensitivities, or lack thereof, to the charge that The Sopranos is one long festival of anti-Italian stereotyping. I ask you this now because, as hysterical as I find Curb Your Enthusiasm, every so often I’m left feeling that I’d rather not have people in Oklahoma or Alaska or whatever more-or-less-Jew-free state you can think of thinking the kind of thoughts about Jews that Larry David would have you think about Jews.

One other thing: I could picture you last night, laughing out loud when the dour, hyperserious FBI agent spoke feelingly about the line between good and evil being no brighter anywhere than at the FBI. Or have I pegged you unfairly as a cynic?

And one final question: Why does the federal government insist on referring to the mob as the LCN, i.e., La Cosa Nostra? Doesn’t La Cosa Nostra translate as “The Our Thing”? So wouldn’t “The LCN,” a designation which turns up in indictments regularly, translate as “The The Our Thing”? Enlighten me, please.