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The Sopranos continues to fascinate and provoke. It centers on a New Jersey mob family, and it polarizes because we are suspended between horror and fascination, and wonder whether we should be wasting time watching a show that seems to glamorize and romanticize a very deviant, brutal, lawless lifestyle. Yes, we should.

The core of this drama is Tony Soprano and his family -- wife, son, daughter, mother, uncle, sister and a host of cousins; and Tony's surrogate family -- consigliore, lieutenants, made men and thugs. It exposes an underworld that may or may not coexist alongside our quotidian lives, and that intrigues us and also makes us uneasy. The writing and acting, the remarkable casting, all add to the verisimilitude. These are men who love their mothers and dote on their daughters, but who don't hesitate to beat a woman to death. They'll attend their kid's soccer game after calmly ordering a hit on a rival, and perhaps visit a mistress directly following the game. The show very finely showcases the meager humanity these men (and women) possess, and the contrasts between their work and home life can be quite jarring.

It's an intricate tale; the oedipal complex is not neglected! The most dysfunctional families in history might admire and learn from this extended clan -- the total disregard for any laws but their own, the brutality, often taking the home viewer aback in its wantonness, the multiple nexuses between characters, family (mothers, uncles) plotting against their own blood, adultery, corrupt politicians, profane language throughout. And you cannot take your eyes off of it.

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HBO
6 Seasons, 87 Episodes - Ended
Drama
9.2/10
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The Sopranos Full Episode Guide

  • In the sixth and last series finale, Dr. Melfi has cut her ties, Silvio's in a coma, and Bobby has been derailed - now, there is no more hiding.

  • The disloyalty surrounding Tony reaches a breaking point within his crew. A mistaken identity during a hit has deadly consequences. A.J. continues to battle his depression.

  • Tony attempts to help settle differences between New York and Jersey, but his offer is rejected by Phil Leotardo. Meanwhile, A.J. continues to battle his depression and Meadow's father comes to her aide when a New York associate crosses the line.

  • A dispute over asbestos-disposal causes tensions to mount between New York and New Jersey families.

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