The Right Coast

May 02, 2004
The Sopranos
By Mike Rappaport

This year the HBO series, The Sopranos, is really quite superb. While I must admit that a show about an organized crime family seems cliched at this point, the writing is just so good that it continues to be of interest.

The episode from a couple of weeks ago involved two extremely interesting story lines. First, Tony meets his father's mistress, and we share Tony's surprise as he learns a great deal about the world that his father lived in. We also see how Tony's father helped to create the moral peculiarity that is Tony today.

The second story line was even better. Chris, Tony's cousin, went into Alcoholics Anonymous (or some other 12 step program), and met a TV writer who had ruined his life with heroin. In certain respects, Chris acts like the dutiful AA friend, who helps his friend stay away from his addiction. In other respects, though, Chris is the typical mob member, introducing his friend into a gambling game (no addiction there), lending him money, at a high interest rate, and then beating him up when he does not pay. (Chris then asks what has caused his friend to go off the wagon, somehow forgetting about the beating.) Tremendous compartmentalization skills on Chris's part -- or is it just the skill of a sociopath?