Seinfeld vs Sopranos

Not having HBO, I never saw The Sopranos in all its bare-breasted, foul-mouthed, bloody violent glory. I have had the opportunity to view most episodes on A & E. But I have been unable to watch them in their precise order and and feel somewhat deprived. (most people probably consider me more than somewhat depraved.)

After seeing these episodes multiple times, I have been able to draw certain conclusions, which likely put me outside the mainstream of both the bulk of professional critics and the show’s many fans who were enthralled by the series.

I think the entire premise was actuallu a parody of Seinfeld. seriously.

In this case, Carmela was the stand-in for Jerry Seinfeld himself. She is the sanest of the Soprano core family, which isn’t to suggest any are truly sane. But the plots usually come back to her trying to maintain a facade of normality amidst the chaos around her. But many of the show’s highlights resulted from her stepping outside her normal bounds, such as when she committed adultery, and had the intense sexual flirtation with the priest. That is akin to Jerry stealing the marble rye.

A.J. is George Costanza. He’s stupid, fails at everything he attempts while failing to maintain any observable moral principles along the way, or even attempt or aspire to any action even remotely noble. He lives off others and will do so his entire life, destined to be a pernicious, simpering fool. If the story had continued, I could see him eventually killing his fiance without intent or guile and exhibiting no remorse whatsover.

Meadow is Elaine. She uses sex and sexuality to advance herself and a vague, undefined agenda. While she projects an air of competence or even achievement, her pettiness on many levels will inhibit true success in life. She can be completely self-indulgent and I would not be surprised to learn she totally botched a completely simple task such as returning a borrowed tennis racket.

That leaves Tony. Not nearly a physical euivalent of Kramer, he is his equal in promulgating big ideas and even convincing others to go along but is disturbingly unpredictable. Just like you always wondered how Kramer ever survived when he produced only cracked eggs from his ill-hatched schemes, Tony is an example of the dregs, not the cream, rising to the top. They both actually inhabit a parallel universe quite apart from the one where logic, common sense and critical thinking dwell. That they both manage to bed pretty attractive women from time-to time, is one of those inexplicable mysteries that will always remain unsolved in the cold case files.

Uncle Junior and Livia are just like George’s parents. They are petty, inconsiderate, loud, whining, vindictive and stupid. They care not about how their actions affect their progeny. Whatever good will they engender is immediately offset by actions that to term despicable is too kind to them. They are too unpleasant to even have in your home through the medium of television.

Carmela’s parents are similar to Jerry’s. They are generally tolerable, have unresolved conflicts with George’s folks (Junior and Livia), yet somehow live in a world nominally apart from the other characters without making any remarkable contributions to that world, either good or bad.

The other characters like Paulie or Christopher and anyone whose path is crossed by Tony and his cohorts is inevitably and eventually worse off for the encounter.

Dr. Melfi is a special case. Special in that she does not truly exist but is a personna created out of whole cloth by Kramer, er Tony, to satisfy his desire for respectability. Much like the pipe-smoking pseudo-doctors portrayed on occasion by Cosmo, she exists only in Tony’s warped mind . In their counselling sessions as she encourages Tony to voice his thoughts, the end product is irrational babble just as Kramer expounds incoherently in trying to impress a true professional with his nonexistent medical knowledge.

If you still aren’t convinced by my argument, please name me the two long-running TV series that were loved by fans and critics alike but whose final episodes were deemed to be maddeningly unsatisfying. Need I say more?

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