On the evening of June 19, 2013, I came to learn actor James Gandolfini, star of the dramatic series The Sopranos, died of an apparent heart attack. He was 51.
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?
15 thoughts on “Carmela Soprano”
I have the first two seasons on DVD but I’ve never gotten around to watching them as I know that if I get hooked it will be a big time commitment. I still hope to get around to watching at some point though…
She sounds ace! I’ve never watched the Sopranos but I was sad to hear of his death, it seemed very premature.
I’ve never watched The Sopranos. I’m Irish-American so I may not be allowed to.
Women in the Mob culture, both now and in the 20th century, fascinate me. They are close to some terrifying men. How do they protect themselves? Aren’t they always afraid of getting on his bad side? Always walking on eggshells? How do they sleep at night?
As Anne in Anne of Avonlea (the movie) said, “I wouldn’t marry anyone who was really wicked, but I think I’d like that he could be wicked and wouldn’t.”
The fact that you just quoted Anne of Avonlea made my day!! 😀
Anne and I grew up together, books and movies. We’re basically family. 😉
Uh, I don’t think there’s an Irish-American ban on The Sopranos, at least to my knowledge.
I’ve wondered that too about mob women. Admittedly, Tony and Carmela’s relationship was different from the other relationships portrayed on the show. For instance, there was Christopher and Adriana, which was more of what you described. The show did a good job illustrating both sides of the coin where women enjoyed the spoils of their husband’s/boyfriend’s lifestyle, but also suffered by the evil lurking under the surface of all the pretty displays of prosperity and love.
Oh, Anne… How I love what goes on in that crimson head of hers!
So glad there’s not a ban. I saw Gangs of New York. It can get ugly.
I love James Gandolfini and his death hit me harder than I thought it would, I think because he always came across as larger than life onscreen. If you haven’t read Matt Zoller Seitz’s article about him on vulture.com, you should. Very, very well done.
Thanks for the Matt Zoller Seitz reference. Anyone who’s wondering, here is the link: http://www.vulture.com/2013/06/james-gandolfini-obit-matt-zoller-seitz.html What a superb article.
*facepalm* sorry I didn’t think to include the link! Glad you found the article and glad you enjoyed 🙂
Ah, carmela was one tough mama. there’s always someone in the family, usually behind the scenes, who holds things together through thick and thin. losing mr. gandolfini was sad, but i was a little shocked that they (government) ordered flags flown at half mast….a GI dies and you hardly ever hear about it.
Never Personally watched the series. Though they were pretty famous for their mouths and coming from an italian family, I get that 1000% percent.
I liked the Sopranos. Edgy, gritty and different. I wasn’t sure how real the mob stuff was, but the family stuff was spot on. I was sad for James Gandolfini’s family.
Literally, I stopped what I was doing and just sat there. I couldn’t believe it. I followed his career way before he made it big on The Sopranos and always thought he’d do something big. Never knew what, though, at the time.
Loved this article, I’m first generation in this country. My father and mother were both from Italy. People will never truly understand Italians; we are a strong.