Watching Too Much Television (4.07)

Paulie returns home from an Ohio prison.
Adriana pursues marriage as a legal strategy.
Tony conspires with community leaders
to defraud a Federal agency.

Episode 46 – Originally aired Oct 27, 2002
Written by Terry Winter and Nick Santora
Story by Chase, Green & Burgess
Directed by John Patterson


In the previous episode, “Everybody Hurts,” the show seemed to be dealing with everyone’s depression—everyone except for Adriana, that is.  Other than a momentary appearance right at the beginning of the hour, she was absent from the last episode.  Her sadness, however, is dealt with in this hour.  The episode title comes from a symptom of depression: vegging out on the couch and watching too much television.  Adriana has been showing this symptom for a while now.  Two episodes ago, she listlessly sat in front of the TV watching a “Body by Jake” infomercial.  (Whatever happened to that guy?)  The one time that we saw her in the last episode, she absentmindedly stared at a program about the Egyptian pyramids.  In the present episode, she looks at The A-Team.  (What non-depressed adult could sit through an hour of that show today?)  She also watches an episode of the short-lived Steven Bochco drama Murder One.  A character on the show mentions the so-called “marital privilege,” by which a spouse cannot be compelled to testify against her partner.  This gets the wheel in Adriana’s pretty little head spinning.

But Adriana’s idea to quickly get married to Christopher looks like a no-go once he learns that she may be barren.  To her suggestion that they could adopt a child, Chris shouts, “Yeah, that’s great!  Some kid with chinky eyes called ‘Moltisanti!'”  Actually, we did sort of see this in episode 2.01 “Guy Walks Into A Psychiatrist’s Office…”:

Asian Moltisanti

Chris angrily knocks things over and storms out of the house.  He turns to his colleagues for advice.  Tony and Silvio think that a marriage between Chris and Ade would be a good thing.  Paulie disagrees: “If ya ask me, marriage and ‘our thing’ don’t jibe.”  (But Paulie may have some regrets about never getting married or having children; earlier in the hour, he got emotional listening to the song Sinatra wrote for his daughter, “Nancy with the Laughing Face.”)  Chris tells them, “I gotta think about it.”  (→ Cut to him passed out in his car after injecting heroin; shooting up scag is Christopher’s way of “thinking about it.”)  He comes back home to Adriana and consents to getting married.

It is when she is trying out wedding dresses that Adriana learns that “marital privilege” may just be a myth.  It turns out that her friend saw an episode of Murder She Wrote in which a wife did have to testify against her husband.  The composition of this scene may look familiar to us:

2  wedding dresses - Sopranos Autopsy

We saw Janus-faced Janice get doubled in a mirror while wearing a wedding dress back in episode 2.12.  Adriana gets doubled now, and this imagery itself can be read in double ways.  First, the image points to her double-life as an FBI informant (the pressure of which is driving her to rush into marriage).  And second, the double-image of her may signify that she is of two minds regarding marriage to Christopher.  Adriana loves him but he is a man who has physically assaulted her in the past, and who now calls her “damaged goods” upon learning that she may be barren.  Furthermore, he had to get high on junk before he could find the courage to propose to her.  If marriage can’t prevent her from testifying against Chris, as her friend believes, then is this marriage really going to be the best thing for Adriana?

An attorney confirms her friend’s claim that marriage wouldn’t necessarily protect her.  And the bridal shower confirms Adriana’s disenchantment with the whole marriage idea.  She looks nauseous upon receiving a Cuisinart at her bridal shower.  Perhaps she is not yet ready for the banality and domesticity of married life.  If so, this may be the most significant thing that she has in common with her fiancé, who has always had difficulty accepting “the fucking regularness of life.”


Although the episode title refers to Adriana’s story, the major plot of the hour concerns the mob’s new housing scam.  It’s a straightforward story, but more brilliantly constructed than most viewers recognize.  Disclosure: I’ve been aching to do the write-up on this episode for months (actually years, ever since the days when Sopranos Autopsy was just a twinkle in my eye) because of an observation that I haven’t yet seen anyone else make; the housing-scam storyline contains a fairly obscure allusion that nobody as far as I can tell has ever bothered to look up.  The allusion opens up our understanding of the episode like a revelation.  But I’ll come back to that in a bit.

Ever since learning that her cousin Brian Cammarata received a brand new suit from Patsy Parisi, Carmela has suspected that Tony is trying to pull her cousin into his circle.  Now, Tony has invited Brian to Paulie’s “Welcome Home” party.  Brian is not quite “one of the guys”—he makes a mob faux pas by comparing Paulie’s return from prison to a return from college.  But he makes himself comfortable anyway, doing body shots off a stripper and waking up—pantless—the next morning on the Bing stage.  Tony and Ralph take him to breakfast where he explains the details of the housing swindle to them.

Tony and Ralph enlist the help of Assemblyman Ron Zellman and his friend Maurice Tiffen to make the scam work.  While at the sauna, Tony and Maurice realize they were practically neighbors as kids—prompting Ralph to give a new spin to the old “there goes the neighborhood” joke.  The three white men laugh but Maurice doesn’t.  This scene gives us a hint that notions about racism, neighborhood, and community will be crucially important components of this episode.

The four men talk about the Newark riots of 1967.  As budding idealists in 1967, Maurice was working for a food co-op and Ron was interning at the state legislature.  Tony would have been a young boy.  (We may remember the reference to the riots and the devastation on Springfield Avenue that was made during a flashback scene in episode 1.07 “Down Neck.”)  The causes of the riots were manifold, but they were essentially driven by a sense of disenfranchisement among Newark’s African-Americans.  Poverty, unemployment, and exclusion from the city power structure all played a role.  It was a violent week.  The National Guard were called in.  Twenty-six people died, and over 700 were injured with more than 1000 arrested.

Springfield Ave 1967 riots Sopranos Autopsy

As the men get dressed in the locker room, we see that Tony has a good relationship with his collaborators.  Maurice nods and smiles at him almost like he’s a soul-brother because Tony knows a little bit about the Chi-lites and the history of soul music.  And Tony is more magnanimous and warm than we would have expected him to be upon learning about Ron’s relationship with former goomar Irina. 

Their scam is put into action.  Dr. Fried fronts for the mob and purchases four rundown houses.  Maurice, armed with a letter of reference from Assemblyman Zellman and a phony appraisal from Tony’s appraiser, secures a massive loan from Housing and Urban Development to buy the houses from the doctor.  The lefthanded check-marks and signatures from the HUD employee and Dr. Fried underscore that this whole thing just ain’t right:

HUD housing and urban development Sopranos Autopsy

By “housing crisis,”
I’m not referring to the housing bubble which led to the crash of 2008.  David Chase is often prescient on the show, and there are indeed moments in this hour that seem to foretell the 2008 recession and mortgage crisis (such as when Tony says that his house is worth three times what he paid for it; and the bad loan HUD gives to Maurice is no worse than the real-life subprime loans and unregulated CDOs that precipitated the recession).  Chase is prescient, but not that prescient.  No, I’m talking about a different kind of housing crisis:

newark houses

The houses that the mob use for the scam are houses that have gone derelict.  At least one of them is a crackhouse.  Sad to say, there are neighborhoods like this that contain an uneven share of derelict houses in every major American city.  Such urban blight is often the result of inadequate social support systems, a failed and discriminatory war on drugs, underfunded schools in minority neighborhoods, poor city planning and disastrous low-income housing schemes.  This particular area of Newark may very well be suffering from some of the long-term, devastating effects of the ’67 riots: “white flight” and a decreasing amount of investment in businesses and infrastructure by both the public and private sectors.  Racism and racial dynamics certainly have much to do with urban decay in America, but I think it’s often a green issue more than a black and white one: Money talks in the United States, and poor folks simply don’t have the necessary “vocabulary” to be heard.  Many blighted neighborhoods would be robust and vibrant if we genuinely valued having a sense of community, but we simply don’t place value in having truly healthy communities, at least not as much as we do in making an easy buck.

Our devalued sense of community is apparent in middle- and upper-class neighborhoods as well.  Ron Zellman lives in a development of bland cookie-cutter homes—gray, generic boxes all lined up in rows.  His is a typical suburban neighborhood: homogenous, stratified, segregated.  This is not a place of connection and camaraderie.  Neighbors can’t even walk to one another’s homes without risk of being run over—notice the lack of sidewalks.  There are no stoops or porches to facilitate conversations among neighbors, no stores within walking distance.  Ron would have to travel by car, insulated from contact with others, just to buy a gallon of milk.

ron's house

Tony’s house is a grander, bigger box than Ron’s, with more expensive furnishings, but it too has a very generic, flavorless quality (especially with its bland nouveau-riche interior).  Though more upscale than Ron’s suburban tract, the Sopranos’ neighborhood does not foster a deep sense of community either.  It suffers all the alienating ills of suburbia.  The Soprano house sits in a cul-de-sac, literally a dead-end as far as community circulation and connection are concerned.

Sopranos residence

On a related note, I recently discovered that there are four “Usonion” homes in New Jersey built by the great American architect Frank Lloyd Wright.  Wright began thinking about his Usonian houses during the Great Depression when many middle-class Americans were finding themselves in diminished living conditions.  The Usonian residences were meant to be relatively inexpensive but still express the ideals of American democracy that were so important to Wright: individuality, vitality, openness. (The term ‘Usonion’ refers specifically to the U.S. and its democratic values.)  There is nothing generic about a Wright building; even these modest Usonion homes are full of character and texture, and built specifically for their sites:

NJ Usonian Sopranos Autopsy

The Usonian ideal was perhaps too utopian to ever be broadly accepted, although there is actually a Usonian community, designed with Wright’s help, in New York, located just 45 miles away from the blighted Newark neighborhood that Tony is now plundering.  Tony brings AJ into the old neighborhood where he grew up and tries to impart lessons about civic and ethnic pride, and cites the old grand church as an example of what pride and community investment can accomplish.  (He brought Meadow to the same church to impart a similar lesson to her in the Pilot episode.)  Tony voices boilerplate conservative ideology—with hard work and discipline, anyone can raise themselves up by their own bootstraps.  There is much truth to this idea, but Tony (like many on the Right) goes too far in dogmatically embracing the idea as a certainty.  He makes the logical error that many radical free-market conservatives make: If hard work = success, then a lack of success must have been caused by a lack of hard work.  They don’t give due consideration to all the other complex factors that can impede success.  The greediness of people like Tony is one such factor—but he is self-blind to his own culpability in the collapse of this neighborhood and its people.  (And he also chooses not to see that his own way of making a living does not manifest those values of hard work and discipline that he so emphatically preaches to AJ.)

The idea that exploitation of the urban environment is more of a green (money) issue than a black-and-white (racial) one is most clearly expressed at the bank where Maurice buys the properties from Dr. Fried.  The black man and white man join hands here, in front of a mural that ironically reflects the “can-do” attitude of American capitalism:

Broken promise of progressivism

With its idealized figures in a stylized landscape, the mural looks a bit like those Soviet propaganda pieces that once exalted the virtues of Communism:

Soviet progaganda Sopranos Autopsy

The last 100 years have proven that the Communist creed is unworkable; “From Each According To Ability, To Each According To Need” may be a noble sentiment in one sense, but it is morally objectionable in another.  Regardless of its moral content, the creed—at least as it was practiced by the Soviets—has proven to be impractical.  Similarly, the mantra that has (unfortunately) become the unofficial credo of contemporary Capitalism will also fail in the long run: “From Each According to Gullibility, To Each According To Greed.”

The crack addicts need to be rousted from the property before Tony can send his guys in to salvage the copper pipes along with anything else that would maximize his profits.  Zellman is unwilling to pull any strings to do it, so he passes the buck to Maurice, suggesting that Maurice utilize some of the gang-bangers that his organization provides support to.  Maurice hates the idea of using force to clear out the properties: “Nobody said anything about violence.  We renounced it, remember?  When Eldridge went into the codpiece business.”

It’s almost a throwaway reference (and I haven’t seen any Sopranos commentary that has investigated the allusion) but it greatly deepens our understanding of the episode.  Maurice is referring to the “Cleaver Sleeve” codpiece pants that Eldridge Cleaver designed in the 1970s.

Cleaver pants2

Cleaver’s pants exaggerate the idea of black virility and strength.  As a leader of the Black Panthers in the 1960s, Eldridge Cleaver was committed to empowering African-Americans, very often in ways that mainstream America found very threatening.  In his book Soul on Ice, Cleaver confesses his own disturbing method of empowering himself as a young man: he was a serial rapist.  First he raped black women “for practice,” and then he raped white women.  He writes:

Rape was an insurrectionary act.  It delighted me that I was defying and trampling upon the white man’s law, upon his system of values, and that I was defiling his woman—and this point, I believe, was the most satisfying to me because I was very resentful over the historical fact of how the white man has used the black woman.  I felt I was getting revenge.

Cleaver’s lifestory is a strange and surprising one.  He was an angry and violent young man, who rose to power by articulating the anger and dissatisfaction that many others also felt.  He contributed an important viewpoint to the civil rights movement.  In the ensuing years, he bounced around different countries, different religions, different ideologies, even supporting Ronald Reagan for President (who would begin the process of turning the War on Drugs into the new Jim Crow).  By the time he made his Cleaver Sleeve pants, he was no longer a significant contributor to the American dialogue on race.  While the pants may have been an attempt to exalt black power and virility, they are in reality little more than a gauche, ridiculous joke.

Not wanting Tony to take $7000 out of his cut of the profits, Maurice sends his gangbangers in.  Angelo (the black man who had earlier threatened Tony on the street) pulls out his gun to protect his family as gunfire erupts around them.  The young bangers get control of Angelo’s gun, and fire a bullet which ricochets into his crotch, dropping him to the floor in agony:

Watching too much TV Sopranos Autopsy

Like the bullet, the actions of greedy men ricochet in unforeseen ways.  In a vicious irony, Maurice had earlier made a reference to pants which glorified the black penis, but his decision to send the gangbangers in have now destroyed a black penis: Angelo takes a bullet to the cock.  To add to the cruel irony, Dr. Ira Fried, who acted as the mob’s front in the first stage of the fraud, is a urologist.  (We saw his commercial for penile enhancement back in episode 3.13.)  The urologist is part of a scam that has not enhanced this young man’s virility but has instead wrecked it.  Like millions of African-American men, Angelo is driven to his knees by the selfishness of others, both black and white.  The 1960s hope of racial justice and equality has been crushed by greed and lingering racism.  The American ideal of a democracy made vibrant by unique, enfranchised individuals each engaged within his thriving community is nothing more than a utopian fantasy.

A murmer of Ron Zellman’s old idealism seems to still throb within him.  When he goes to the Bada Bing to pick up his share of the profits from the skunk-deal, a part of him feels that he should be punished for his misdeeds.  Be careful what you wish for, Ron.  We caught a glimpse of Tony’s discomfort regarding Ron Zellman’s relationship with Irina when he visited his home earlier—Tony glared at Irina’s heels, devilishly sexy amidst the dull décor of  Zellman’s house:

irina's shoes

Although not as emasculating as taking a bullet to the penis, Tony feels emasculated that Ron has replaced him in Irina’s bed.  When the Chi-lites’ “Oh Girl” comes over Tony’s car radio, it triggers his thoughts of Ron & Irina.  Tony had been buckling his belt in the locker room while this song played and Zellman first told him about Irina; now Tony unbuckles his belt to punish and emasculate Zellman:

2 Belts Sopranos Autopsy

In The Psychology of The Sopranos, psychotherapist Glen Gabbard diagnoses Tony as having a “vertical split,” in which two contrasting parts of his personality remain distinct from one another.  On one side of the split, Tony is cold and callous almost to the point of being sociopathic.  But there is also clearly a side of Tony that is loving, generous and empathetic.  Dr. Gabbard, in the online Slate forum, says this episode provides a prime demonstration of the vertical split.  Tony is magnanimous and understanding about Ron and Irina’s relationship early in the hour, only to become cruel and callous about it by the end.  One of the most memorable examples of Tony’s “vertical split” will be seen a couple of episodes from now, in “Whoever Did This,” when Tony feels an enormous amount of sympathy for a horse—but for Ralph Cifaretto?  Eh, not so much.

Upset by how he has been treated by the New Jersey famiglia lately, Paulie has been cozying up to New Yorker Johnny Sac.  When they meet at a New York restaurant now,  the Brooklyn Bridge spans behind them, visually echoing the bridge (in the mural) that spanned behind everyone at the bank meeting:

2 bridges

The rhyming imagery metaphorically connects the bankers with the Mafia criminals.  Just as the mobsters want to conduct their business away from the prying eyes of the government, American bankers want to conduct their business with as little governmental interference as possible.  This episode originally aired during a period when our Federal government had a particularly “hands off” attitude towards Wall Street and the banking industry.  Even our top banker, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, was guided by an ideology of deregulation.  (He later admitted that this ideology may have contributed to the subprime mortgage and credit crisis in the latter part of the decade.)

When the mobsters are not busy hiding from the Federal government, they are busy taking advantage of it; it is a Federal department—Housing and Urban Development—that Tony Soprano scams now.  From time to time, Tony will criticize the “moochers” who benefit from tax-funded subsidies and handouts, but he has no qualms about blatantly looting the government himself.

I don’t believe that Chase is primarily criticizing the Right or the Left in this hour.  While we may find something disagreeable in Tony’s small-minded conservatism or in Maurice Tiffen’s do-gooder progressivism, Chase is targeting not their politics but their hypocrisy.  Both men understand that it takes more than physical materials or material wealth to build and maintain healthy communities, but their actions don’t reflect this understanding.  Tony’s hypocrisy gets highlighted by the conversation he has with AJ in front of the church that their forefathers built.  Tony tries to impress upon AJ why the old church still endures, but the dimwitted young man just doesn’t get it:

Tony: That church is still standing.  You know why?
AJ: The bricks?

AJ doesn’t understand Tony’s point that it takes more than bricks-and-mortar to make a building stand.  Buildings endure when members of the community feel a sense of pride and responsibility and emotional investment.  It’s not just about “the bricks.”  But Tony himself takes a very narrow, “bricks-and-mortar” view of the mob’s newly-purchased houses in the black neighborhood (a neighborhood that cannot be very far from the Down Neck section of Newark where he himself grew up).  Tony sees these building purely in material terms, stripping them clean like a vulture before flipping them for a tidy profit in a crooked double-deal.  This neighborhood is one of those places that always gets double-dealed.  While socio-political frustrations were simmering and erupting locally in Newark during the 1960s, the ideologies of Communism and Capitalism were clashing against each other in a global Cold War.  The Cold War eventually ended and Capitalism, deservedly, emerged as the victor.  But the triumph of Capitalism has not served the city of Newark as well as some may have hoped it would—Newark is still as fucked as it ever was.



  • Cousin Brian is not happy that the HUD scam fleeces the American taxpayer, but he happily accepts the $15,000 Patek that Tony rewards him with for the idea.  (Carmela seems to recognize that something fishy is going on, despite Brian’s claim that he just came by to pick up a power drill.  He never returns the drill—Tony will search for it in a Season 5 episode.)
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91 responses to “Watching Too Much Television (4.07)

  1. Great insights Ron, “Cleaver Sleeve” – now I’ve heard everything;).
    I wonder if Paulie can also be viewed as a member of the disenfranchised in this episode – recently released from prison, being excluded from highly profitable real-estate schemes by his peers on the one hand while being skilfully manipulated by two faced ‘friend’ Johnny Sack on the other.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. No kidding, Ron, this might be your finest article yet, and I can see you got a kick out of writing this. The insight into the greed and carelessness that has ravaged America and many of her people is astonishingly simple and hits the nail on the head. Loved the talk about Cleaver, too. You got it all in this entry. Kudos!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. One of the darkest episodes of the series. I’d even go far as to say it’s darker than Who Ever Did This and Long Term Parking. While Adrianna and Ralphie are taken out for mafia-related transgressions, the black family are innocent. Chase doesn’t hold back his punches either, the little girl watching her parents get high and then being in the midst of bullets is utterly depressing. When they entered the house one of the gang bangers said to only fire above so I was thinking well at least none of them will get hurt, but then they shoot the guy in his privates and render him infertile just like Adrianna. I never understood Maurice”s eldridge reference until you mentioned it. Amazing analysis. For me this episode shows how far reaching and truly ugly OC is more than anything that’s ever been put to screen. Tony talks to Meadow about the church and then we see Artie’s restaurant blow up and now he’s talking to AJ while doing more or less the same thing. He’s stirred emotionally in the end by the song, but we know he doesn’t love Irina, it’s a hollow sentiment manufactured by a song he loves, just like his speech to his son, and Maurice’s and Zellmans idealism earlier in their lives …gallant, noble but easily discarded when money’s at stake.

    Liked by 6 people

  4. This analysis got me thinking-

    Even though you make a cursory distinction between the ideology and application of communism, the argument you put forward is still something of a misrepresentation/ oversimplification. Bolshevik ‘Communism’ (which was not actually communism in any way except nominally post-1924, if not before) was different from Marxist communism, especially given the jump straight from feudalism- it wasn’t exactly an ideal ‘petri-dish’ to prove or disprove the ideology as it was both flawed and constantly attacked from the outset. As a counterpoint, it could be said that for a nation the size of the USSR- a subcontinent, really- to go from technological and ideological feudalism to winning the space race in such a short amount of time proves the superiority of Bolshevik communism. But this would also be an oversimplification and equally loaded.

    As much as Tony thinks of himself as an extension of the Roman Empire (“You’re looking at ‘em”), he is in actually an embodiment of unfettered, unregulated and undiluted American Capitalism. He literally capitalises on his strengths, physical and mental. Also, like the majority of capitalist successes, his accomplishments are rife with nepotism, cronyism and utilisation of the work of others, wrapped up in a myth of individualism. Tony and capitalism are ultimately destructive and self-destructive forces. Their fates are as inherent to their ideology as their successes.

    Coincidentally, both Russian Revolutions were to be the end of the idea of Rome, as the Romanovs also thought of themselves as a direct continuation of the Roman Empire (hence their surname).Moscow itself was referred to as the ‘third Rome’- Constantinople being the second. Now I’m really down the rabbit hole with this one, but that’s quite an interesting coincidence.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Well, fair enough, but I don’t agree that capitalism must ultimately be a destructive force. There may be ugly aspects to contemporary America, but these faults may come out of the unfortunate ways that our capitalism brushes up against other factors: our relatively high level of religiosity, our long-held distrust of government, our abundance of natural resources – in other words, contemporary America may not be the ideal Petri dish to disprove the ideology. Many countries and cultures around the world are proving that Capitalism, when regulated by good policy and common sense, is a great engine not only to create wealth, but also to achieve healthy environments and social justice.

      Of course, David Chase does seem to posit Tony Soprano as the natural result of a monstrous capitalist philosophy. But Chase may not be damning the ideology as much as how it is being practiced in the US. And—as you’ve reminded me—there’s an important distinction to be made between the ideology and its application.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Thanks for the reply! I really appreciate such a considered response.

    I should clarify- the destruction I refer to is not in any way exclusive to capitalism, but certainly inherent to it. Capitalism is an ideology born from industrialisation. The level of mass industrialisation present in the world is unsustainable and while there are examples of ‘moderate’ capitalism (which are also, if we’re thinking of Scando nations, funnily enough examples of ‘moderate’ democratic socialism) the negative global impact- unsustainable use of rapidly diminishing resources and an ecologically boned planet- are the outcome. Capitalism, in its present form, as practiced globally, is completely unsustainable. Soviet/Post-soviet Communism, should that have become the dominant ideology would, I have no doubt, have proven to be similar. The ideological differences of individualism vs. the collective may have shown a difference in the face of current evidence, maybe- but who knows? It was, in the end, an organisation supporting the people at the top, and exploitation of those on the bottom. Just like Capitalism. Just like organised crime

    The largest applications of communist ideology have been as tied up in industrialisation as capitalism- never forget that Fordian principles of division of labour were as key to Soviet communism as they were capitalism. The issue is mass industrialisation.

    As you rightly pass back, there is a distinction between ideology and application. The problem is, American capitalism IS capitalism. Since the 1950s, America has set the tune that the rest of the world has danced to. It is the dominant hegemony of the western world, and everything else is either a variation of or in opposition to this. To bring it back, Tony, as the modern mafia, is an encapsulation of the dying of capitalism. Capitalism and organised crime are in many ways the same thing. ‘Good’ can happen- some countries have functioning healthcare, some windows are unbroken. Capitalism and organised crime convince themselves of benevolence and an almost organic right- capitalist explanations of ‘human nature’ (as shorthand for greed) and the Cosa Nostra being a way that peasants found and metered out their own justice. Both are ‘effort after meaning’. They are justifications of their own existence based on selective remembrances and untruths. Tony looks back on the heyday of organised crime in the same way that capitalist societies regard certain eras (the 1950s in the US, the empire in Britain). The realities of the periods looked back upon were horrible for most people.

    The Sopranos is a critique of capitalism, ‘benevolence’ and all. There is no redemption. Any ‘good’ is relatively minor, passing or incidental and there are only a limited amount of outcomes. Capitalism (at least as presently practiced) will likely at some point see the collapse of society, if not the extinction of humanity. Organised crime will likely end in either incarceration or murder.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks for the clarification, I basically agree with everything you’re saying. In a sense, though, perhaps capitalism needs to become “truer” if it is to become something sustainable and benevolent. True capitalism would not allow for the corporate welfare and cronyism that surrounds us to exist. True capitalism would give an honest and fully-considered valuation of everything within its system e.g. not just the market price of timber but also the social cost of deforestation.

      I read “Atlas Shrugged” about 15 years ago and it had quite an influence on me. I somehow felt compelled to re-read it after the recent presidential election—and I’m finding it shockingly naïve. Rand elevates the American industrialists of her book to Messianic status. The criticisms she made against Leftists then—especially her claim that they’ve abandoned science and cold reason in favor of faith and emotion—seem to better fit free-market fanatics now. Though our industrialists are not the heroes that Rand fantasized them to be, I have hope that we’ll find a way to make capitalism sustainable, and maybe even compassionate. I can’t see a future without it.

      Liked by 4 people

    • It reminds me of Tony’s comment in the Pilot that he feels he is getting in at the end of something, or once the ‘glory days’ of the Mafia and/or capitalism are a thing of the past. The Sopranos is a critique of modern day capitalism with all of it’s accompanying collateral damage to societies, our environment and so on.
      Chase is saying in the first ever episode that Tony, organised crime and ultimately ‘our’ modern capitalist system is sowing the seeds of it’s own destruction.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. How about the line where Carmela says to Ade, “we’re gonna fill the house with moms” after aid tells Carmela that she hasn’t told her mom yet. Maybe this a trivial line but the strange turn of phrase by Carmela caught me off guard. Also it appears aids mom is not present at the shower. Maybe I’m reading to much into this. Just seemed like they trying to make a point about something.


  7. straight outta iowa

    It might be helpful to make a distinction between “capitalism” – -by most honest accounts the greatest force for good in the history of the world in terms of lifting hundreds of millions, if not billions, up from poverty and serfdom — and what we could call “rent seeking behavior”, along with its more sophisticated cousin “corporatism”. No doubt Chase heaps plenty of criticism at the latter, as we all do, but I’m afraid I don’t see an all out condemnation of “capitalism” in The Sopranos”. Moreover, it is not easy to see a Chase vision of government as some sort of benevolent force — whether in the form of corrupt local cops and public officials; bungling Feds; and poorly crafted HUD rules that lend themselves to scams like Tony’s. Rather, to paraphrase Michael in GF2, I think Chase is saying “we’re all part of the same corruption”.
    As a non sequitur, since we are citing books, if anyone still wonders how we have President Trump, I strongly recommend Murray’s “Coming Apart”. And as for apologists for capitalism, of course there are a great many, but McCloskey’s “Bourgeois Equality” (2016) is an incredibly learned and interdisciplinary intellectual and economic history. (Of course it is mere coincidence that Murray is an Iowa native and McCloskey formerly taught at U of Iowa.) 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Lol while everyone’s talking about politics, I came across one of the most obvious foreshadowing events in this episode that I have not seen discussed yet by others online (that I have bothered to look into). The scene which Christopher shoots up, wakes up, and starts to drive off. He drives through a Stop sign and almost gets himself into an accident. Sure, the link between drug addiction and the death of Christopher has been brewing up for some time, but I think this is the most obvious sign yet. Put bluntly, the end of Christopher involves him getting high, and then getting into a car accident. This scene serves as yet another precaution that Christopher chose to ignore and obviously foreshadows his fateful end. Great work behind this episode from John Patterson overall.

    Liked by 6 people

  9. “…the housing-scam storyline contains a fairly obscure allusion that nobody as far as I can tell has ever bothered to look up. The allusion opens up our understanding of the episode like a revelation. But I’ll come back to that in a bit.” What is this referring to? Did I miss where you came back to this? Thanks for the help.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. You really dislike Conservatives. Reagan’s war on drugs = new Jim Crow? How ridiculous can you get with that. If Reagan had done nothing about drugs then you’d be chastising him as not caring about the black community because he did nothing, it’s no-win situation with you people. Despite all of your obviously great intelligence and, what I find to be, very well articulated observances, your pettiness and over-simplification of things such as Reagan and Conservative theories baffles me. I do note that you also are very willing and capable of degrading the “other side,” so I am not blind to the fact that you are making an effort to be non-partisan, but I do wish you would study more on Reagan and actual Conservative ideology before broad-brushing it as be motivated by hate or a want for the return of “Jim Crow.” I’ll continue to read each review nonetheless and I appreciate your time and work.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ok, it may have been more accurate if I had written that mass incarceration, rather than the war on drugs, equals the new Jim Crow. Nixon began the War on Drugs and Clinton greatly exploited it, but it was under Reagan that an American policy of mass incarceration—under the guise of fighting the scourge of drugs—really got its wheels. Michelle Alexander makes this point in her book, “The New Jim Crow.” While my statement may have been an oversimplification, it is not fundamentally incorrect.

      And no, I don’t dislike Conservatives. Some of my best drinking buddies are quite conservative. (But I tend to keep my distance from those folks that broad-brush all others who have a different opinion as “you people.”)

      Liked by 2 people

    • The whining of conservatives (what are you trying to conserve?) on this blog
      always gives me a chuckle. What ever happened to Gary Cooper?

      Look, The Sopranos is not a simplistic show. It has connections
      to the political economy, it says something about America, and what it says
      ain’t pretty on the whole. Anyone who wants to seriously study this work without discussing
      politics & economics and taking a look in the mirror should stick to simpler TV fare.

      If we’re being honest, there is plenty of garbage to go around. Hypocrites of
      all stripes are skewered on the show, but the truth is
      conservative policies have been in the driver’s seat for decades now.
      Even when Democrats are in power, the economic, military, and judicial policies
      mostly trundle along the same tracks they have been following since the early 80’s.

      These policies haven’t been working for most Americans.
      If it hurts conservatives feelings to hear that, they can plug up their ears and sing
      “Toodle F-n Doo”. But remember, Big girls don’t cry.

      Liked by 5 people

      • Exactly, trickle-down, neoliberal, laissez faire whatever you want to call it economics is a scam. Something dreamed up to justify the pillaging of national resources and economies while giving nothing back. But the Sopranos doesn’t pull punches on both sides, look at the introduction of Paverte sorry Janice and her hippy/eastern tendencies. Look at AJ in season 6 and his unfocused whinging that he can make no sense of while standing on his soapbox.
        There’s enough hypocrisy to go around for all.
        As far as the discussion on capitalism goes, I see Tony and OC as the embodiment of unregulated capitalism where might (physically and economically) is right. Capitalism works but only with strict regulation to minimise corruption etc – unregulated you have the economy being run by white collar gangsters.

        Liked by 1 person

  11. JF: You are right that the show skewers everybody. And rightfully so. They all got us into this mess.

    But “conservative policies have been in the driver’s seat for decades”? How so, exactly? Size of government? The federal debt doubled in the Obama years, and eventually will exceed GDP. Including “off balance sheet” obligations, the real debt is now an estimated $100 trillion. Foreign policy? We have been liberal internationalists/interventionists at least since the Cold War years. The conservative for pol spectrum ranges from realpolitik to isolationism. “Neoconservatives”, as you probably know, are anything but. Social issues? Not to worry, there will still be millions of abortions next year. And we just had an African-American president for eight years who was the most liberal in the history of the office. Health care, almost 20% of the US economy, is on a slow march toward single payor. Conservatives only speak on campuses these days at risk of life and limb.Fed policy has been extremely accommodative (thankfully). The top 1% pay 44% of federal taxes, the top 20% pay 87%, and the bottom 45% pay nothing. In spite of the highest marginal rates dropping, net taxation has become MORE progressive in recent decades, not less. I could go on and on.

    To sum up: Contrary to your assertion, we have become demonstrably LESS conservative in recent decades in most every way that matters. And we are in a huge mess. I am always wary of post hoc ergo propter hoc, but I must say it is tempting here.

    PS: I LOVED that “toodle f’ing doo” scene.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I simply don’t understand how someone can not only be intelligent enough to appreciate The Sopranos on a deep level, but actively seek out thoughtful commentary like this website’s and in particular this episode (for all it’s racial under-and-overtones), and still make a comment like kelly flynn’s.

      I realize this is not the place to argue politics, but sometimes the lack of self-awareness and intentional or accidental disregard for context and history on the part of some conservatives (particularly the ones commenting here) really is astounding to me.

      Thanks for the thought and energy you put into this article, Ron. It’s really incredible work.

      Liked by 3 people

    • You don’t really expect me to figure out for you why conservatives say one thing when
      they’re out of power, then do the opposite when they’re in power, do you Mr. Flynn?

      Go ask your conservative leaders. You might try looking for them at “Captain Teebs”.

      Liked by 1 person

      • straight outta iowa

        JF — Thanks again for the insights. Between the pedantry and the presumption about my “leaders”, I’m sure there was a point there…somewhere…right?


  12. The episode of the A-Team Ad watches in this episode is called ‘Till Death Do Us Part’. In it the A-Team are tasked with stopping a rich Texan from marrying a woman against her will, obviously mirroring Ad and Christopher’s abusive relationship. Interesting that the central plot of the A-Team episode isn’t alluded to in the short scene that appears on the TV. The episode has almost certainly been chosen for its parallel theme but its well buried and and would only be obvious to anyone familiar with the episode. I just happened to see a recent repeat. It was the first time I’d seen the A-Team since I was a kid. Hadn’t realised how crappy it was.

    Liked by 5 people

    • I tried to watch an old episode recently because I thought it would be fun to see Face and Murdoch and the whole gang again… I couldn’t get through it, it is such a lame show.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I am enjoying these write-ups very much and it’s impressive to me how you are able to take each show and get so much out of it. I tend to look at the characters and their motivations. But I am enjoying reading your take on things. May I ask your age Ron?

        Liked by 1 person

  13. straight outta iowa

    Thanks for the comment, James. Let me first say that I did not start the political stuff. Like you, I believe there is a time and a place, and here is not it. Perhaps I should not have taken the bait. I have also complimented Ron at length on the quality of this site.

    That said, I am aware of the historical context of the episode, and would be curious to know what specifically you found so objectionable in my post?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I just want to say that I’ve appreciated your comments SOI, and (dare I say it?) I even enjoyed our back-and-forth on the 3.08 page.

      You’re definitely correct that you didn’t start the political stuff – David Chase started it. The Sopranos is filled with a sense of real-life, and every aspect of real-life is touched, directly or indirectly, by politics…


  14. straight outta iowa

    Thanks, Ron, and right back at ya. Keep up the good work. Now…back to Gloria please? 🙂


  15. You scoundrel, Ron! Don’t worry I’m on the verge of being one myself. This was definitely a dark episode which shows more hypocrisy than maybe any other episode in the series. You definitely brought up some food for thought in this analysis. Regarding the political tones of the episode, analysis and comments it’s a safe assumption to say that the state of affairs and current mood of the country did not get this way overnight. I tend not to ever get too political or one sided when expressing my views, and I always try to hear everyone out and to fully understand their ideas, even though I may not agree. Its important to remember that the events of this episode took place in 2003-ish and much has taken place in this country since. (Would be interesting to see Chase’s interpretation of today). This episode shows the disenfranchised and the overall mood of Newark. I think a key scene in this episode and the series is when Tony is approached by Angelo. Breaking it down, perhaps Tony shouldn’t have even been there. His interests in the property are not moral and it’s just him exploiting weaker people for the sake of making a few dollars. On the other side, the way Tony was approached by Angelo was ridiculous. The types of behaviors we see here turn people off from these areas- they don’t want to do business and sure as hell don’t want to raise a family there. Sad when the little kid asks Zellman about the house. There is a missing component of personal accountability for many of the characters in this episode; Tony, Brian, Ralph, Maurice, Zellman, Maurice, Angelo and the crackhead mom. I agree Chase seems to be calling out the hypocrisy of these characters over their racism or politics. Its all about money. One of my favorite scenes is Tony beating Zellman with the belt. Hilarious! This analysis was very well written.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. 5:45 – Bing, early morning, after Paulie’s return party. Pan to outsider finance kid, prone on the dance floor, the same pose as the neon pink stripper icon prominent in the background. Shown also, blue light-up sign for “Men’s Room.”
    Finance kid rises, hung over, distraught, missing half of his clothing. Cut to Tony doing the same thing, but clearly more acquainted with the routine.
    “Where are my pants?” Joey Pantoliano emerges from Men’s Room.

    Liked by 4 people

  17. Black masculinity and trousers

    Steam room scene. Framed are the conspirators, and a sign saying “Shorts required on co-ed days.” Co-ed might not just be men+women, but black+white as well, or, more abstractly, charitable+criminal, rightly motivated+selfishly motivated.

    Black guy clearly shown to have better posture and better body than the surrounding Italian mobsters and Jewish politician.

    Tony exits scene. Next, the same sign is shown again but on a different wall, merely 5 feet from the first.

    The repetition seems to be intentionally enforcing something here, since no locker room would have the exact same sign so close to the other.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Ricky DeHesperus

    I’ve been a fan of the Autopsy for years and keep coming back after every re-watch. One thing that stuck me in the episode was how Adriana came close to avoiding destruction by merely coming clean with Christopher about her fertility problems. If she and Chris had just split here, her value as an informant would have immediately vanished and the Feds’ involvement with her would have likely fizzled far away from Tony’s operation. With a decent attorney she probably would have walked on any coke charges or taken a relatively minor penalty.

    She sits passively on the couch when Christopher returns to deliver his verdict, but she really had a choice. She could have used the horrible things that Christopher said as a pretext for walking out then – heck she could have been gone when he returned and no one would have been surprised. This episode anticipates similar choices that Adriana makes in Long Term Parking but in that episode her options were significantly limited. Long Term Parking encourages us to imagine Adriana’s escape and here I find it impossible not to envision a long life for Adriana free of Christopher and all of his awfulness.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Ricky. Yes, there is a sense that most of the characters in SopranoWorld—including Adriana—are caught in an ever-tightening vise. Their options diminish over time…

      Liked by 1 person

  19. Carmela to Adriana while planning the wedding: “we’ll decorate the whole house with mums”


    Liked by 1 person

  20. I just noticed, in the middle of the episode, in the scene where Adriana asks Chris to get married when they are on the couch, there is the sound of a bell. Though it’s likely a glass clinking, you don’t see the glass, only hear the sound. The same bell sound, I think that is heard in Soprano’s Home Movies and again in the final episode. Maybe the bell is an omen about death for these characters — the bell tolls and all that. I have watched these episodes over and over on and there is always more in the details I didn’t notice the first 600 times I watched it lol!

    Liked by 3 people

  21. I’m rewatching the serie and the autopsy of this episode was exceptionally good, I wish to thank you for your work, hope I can add on some additional thoughts in a while.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Adriana told us early on that the “Mob Wife” life didn’t suit her. Remember Chris and her conversation about Carmela in the Massive G episode.? She mentioned stretched marks and popping out babies. I think she sees herself as a cool urban woman, with a loft and lots of money. Even the gown is not her usual style. I see her in something less traditional and more sophisticated and sexy as a bride. Janice didn’t look right in that wedding dress either. (Maybe i just don’t like wedding gowns?) We know she is upset about the FBI but she won’t leave Christopher and I truly think the hitting is a usual thing for her. She doesn’t like it, but I don’t think its high on the list of why she shouldn’t marry him. She also uses drugs as well and only really sees how serious it is very late in the game after he really beats her up and gets his car stolen. She is a tragic figure, but it is in her power to run from that life. I guess it’s not so easy. I don’t think I have ever even heard Christopher talk to her in a kind manner. Always yelling at her or speaking in a nasty tone. “Stir my eggs!”

    Liked by 2 people

  23. Yeah… make muh dinner yeh fuckin’ hoo-er!

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Anyone else find it ironic that “Paulie’s song” is a song about Sinatra’s wife, when Paulie is the only one of the main crew who doesn’t have a wife or family?

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Thanks for the Eldridge Cleaver research, actually this made me remember that Eldridge Cleaver comes up again in Sopranos. Cant remember the episode, but sometime in season 5 or 6 (maybe “Stage 5”?) Chris mentions that there’s an injunction against the Cleaver movie by the Eldridge Cleaver estate.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Fantastic episode and write up. I always wonder why they get way with things so easily. Surely the FBI would look into the housing scams and connect the dots. Also with many murders like Chris avenging his fathers killer we never see any investigation or hear about it. He left evidence all over that house. Just something I think about with forensics etc, Chase seem to have passed on alot of this sloppiness.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Lorezo_Milera

    I’ve been enjoying your blog a lot. You make some great points and you, along with what other people add in the comments, make me see this great show from different perspectives. However, your entry for this episode really upset me. Not only do we have opposing views on the “merits” of capitalism (“The last 100 years have proven that the Communist creed is unworkable” and “The Cold War eventually ended and Capitalism, deservedly, emerged as the victor” were so ludicrous I couldnt believe what I was reading) but more importantly, seem utterly out of place when compared with the other entries I’ve read so far. The last thing I expected to find in this blog was neoliberal propaganda talking points, casually peppered throughout as if they were universal truths. I love your analysis of the characters, their motivations, etc. but that other stuff should have no place here and it’s pretty disappointing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Lorezo. It’s possible to have opposing views about an idea just like it is possible to have opposing views on a person (a person like Tony Soprano for example). Both of my parents are from a part of India that was one of the first places in the world to democratically elect a communist government (in 1957), so I have heard first-hand accounts of how socialism works but also how it doesn’t work. I truly believe that Chase used The Sopranos to explore American capitalism; he focused on the materialistic and consumeristic aspects of it, and so those are the aspects I focus on throughout this site. But I think it’s also legit to look at the larger Capitalism vs. Socialism argument in order to get a better understanding of how these characters live and function within SopranoWorld…


      • It’s funny how depending on the perspective you’re either a capitalist hating socialist or a socialist hating capitalist. Lol. There’s no winning. Kind of like in SopranosWorld…

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ron – Silvio once mentioned something about capitalism (without using the word) when he said that two things are recession-proof, ‘certain aspects of show business and our thing’. A. Giovannone (2020) added, “In the current climate, Hollywood is running out of content, and even organized crime is having trouble making ends meet”. Essentially, capitalism can be seen as something that causes depression (emotional/financial), economic inequality, and instability, all of which can result from political corruption. And corruption is Soprano’s middle name.

        Liked by 2 people

  28. straight outta iowa

    Ron — if you are managing to piss off people across the political spectrum then you are obviously doing something right!
    Viva free speech!
    All the best in these strange and difficult times.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. This is my first time watching The Sopranos and I was fortunate to find this website.

    I am very much appreciating the series and all of the insightful and delicious commentary posted here. There is so much material to digest! Thank you for helping to make my COVID-19 isolation time more bearable.:)

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Great article, Ron! Bizarrely enough, watching this episode is the *second* time I’ve come across Eldridge Cleaver in a mafia-related context today. In the 2016 computer game *Mafia III*, set amongst the backdrop of the racial violence and prejudice of 1968 in a fictionalised New Orleans, the player can find an issue of *Playboy* containing an extended interview with him. (You also get some tits. A picture, I mean, you don’t grow them or anything).

    That Beaver sure gets around!

    Liked by 1 person

  31. I can’t re-watch Sopranos without re-reading your write-ups – great notes here.
    It’s almost too buried to be a meaningful connection, but it’s interesting that the movie “Cleaver” that Chris will make is a revenge/retaliation fantasy.
    Eldridge Cleaver methodically and intentionally raped white women to achieve a sense of revenge on the white race. Chris makes a movie about killing a boss instead of actually killing a boss. I guess this could be an example of image/art prevailing over reality – worth mentioning Tony doesn’t want to see the movie as having any significant connection to his/their own lifestyle and actions.

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Cousin Brian lies to Carmela that he is just borrowing a drill. Up til now his behavior is moral: He doesn’t want to tell Tony about the building scam, he expresses horror that Tony went ahead and did it, he doesn’t want to accept the $15,000 watch. But when he lies he is finally crossing the line into mob behavior. What he says is that he is putting up a mirror – and as we know, a mirror is used in The Sopranos to symbolize 2-facedness.

    Liked by 1 person

  33. Just for fun, here is a list of ways that Soprano mobsters tell their underlings to kill someone – or approve of it, or suggest it – without saying it outright:
    Junior: “Something may have to be done…about Tony.”
    Livia: “Christopher needs a talking to. The other one…I don’t know.”
    Silvio: “I don’t think there’s any advantage in keeping him around.” (paraphrase)
    Junior: “I don’t like it.”
    Various people: “Take care of it.”
    Carmine: “What am *I* going to do about it? Nuthin. I didn’t say nuthin. Alright then, I appreciate your thoughts.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Another one: Tony telling Chris to “make sure” Credenzo Curtis and Stanley Johnson don’t ever talk about the planned hit on Carmine.

      But Carmine’s line is maybe my favorite. “I didn’t say nuthin. Alright then.” Spoken like a true Boss.


  34. There’s a great moment in this episode that I haven’t seen mentioned on this page – when Zellman and Maurice are at the Bing receiving their cut from the HUD scam, and Zellman has a moment of reflection to Maurice: “Do you ever feel bad about any of this stuff?” or something like that, and how he and Maurice used to be idealists that we’re going to change the world. It’s a rare and honest moment. The mobsters, although they have their own reflections and complexities, would never be so open about “feeling bad” about their schemes. But I think it shows the powerful transformation that a lot of young idealists go through, including myself, although Zellman’s actions are criminal so I don’t want to relate too much to him. I also got a chuckle out of the scheme being myself a post-grad student of Non Profit Management. Talk about a case study in how not to manage!

    Liked by 1 person

  35. Can’t overlook the fact that Maurice says, “The revolution got sold.” Even progressive, noble ideas are corruptible by greed. That’s the problem in a nutshell. Enough is never enough; we always want more, even if more doesn’t equate with happiness (as we learn in a later episode). And since we’re such “miserable cocksuckers,” we don’t care who we steamroll in the process.
    Some other loose ends floating around right now: the episode doesn’t mention redlining and blockbusting, but these practices have certainly created a ripe environment for the HUD scam (which itself seems a progressive countermeasure to these discriminatory practices), hence another example of the revolution selling itself out. You mentioned Travis Bickle before with Artie, and Taxi Driver is all about the failure of leftist causes of the 60s seen through the grimy lens of the 70s. Travis, with his cowboy connections, comes to represent the conservative backlash to the anti-war, civil rights, feminist era. The idealism of the 60s may have failed, but his vision to make America great again is tragically delusional and violent. And Taxi Driver itself is heavily informed by yet another John Wayne Western, The Searchers, which has been called “the only Western with a conscience.” So much to unpack here! Thanks for another stellar autopsy!

    Liked by 2 people

  36. Great analysis Ron, really shows your insight into the SopranosWorld. I have to agree though, this is definitely one of the darkest episodes.

    Liked by 1 person

  37. There’s something to your observation of Zellman’s lingering idealism. I think the opening shot inside Maurice’s house introduces the possibility to us even before the quasi-confession at the Bing. ( Zellman, looking at a wall of Black Panthers, with a keen eye on what appears to be a photo of himself and Maurice at an anti-war rally back in the day, says “The fact is Mo these people are criminals.” Context says he’s implicating the people in the crackhouse, and by extension the Panthers. Or is he really talking about those two young gentleman in the picture, and what they’d grow to become?

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s a great catch


    • Grateful naturalised Australian viewer to learn the cultural and historical references behind throwaway lines. Wow that Eldridge Cleaver was something. I feel very comfortable diagnosing psychopath based on those scant details!

      Many ideas are beautiful. It’s the translation/execution into human operational systems that corrupts. Imo, the more progressive (further away from base humanity) the idea, the further there is to fall and fail. A capitalist who doesn’t trickle down looks far better than an able progressive that betrays the needy people they are meant to help.

      Liked by 1 person

      • That’s an interesting idea. I’m not sure I’m fully onboard (how do we define what constitutes “base humanity,” or even if that’s such a bad thing?) but its an interesting theory nevertheless…


        • “Base” implies moral judgement but I am speaking anthropologically. Gross inequality was the norm for centuries – enslavement of weak tribes by the strong, feudal societies, women as property. Civilization as we know it is about 6,000 years old. Slavery was only “abolished” 150 years ago. In this context, the progress that we have made in recognizing that all people are deserving of dignity, which lies at the heart of “progressive” policies, is very recent. That those policies fail is all to understandable. Our default as humans seems to be taking advantage of other humans – which has only very recently been ret-conned by some as a bad thing.

          Liked by 1 person

  38. Pingback: The Soprano Onceover: #61. Watching Too Much Television (S4E7) | janiojala

  39. The mural behind the men making the HUD Deal is most likely a New Deal Federal Art Project – this would have been made at the height of the Popular Front in the US, where the Communist Party allied behind the Democratic Party and supported the New Deal, which makes the imagery being quasi-soviet make sense. It’s also the height of Federal investment in society. I have no doubt that the ghost of the New Deal haunts this episode – the revolution either being betrayed, or exhausted, or perverted, like the HUD scam that Tony runs.

    Liked by 1 person

  40. Ron – Paulie has creeped me out from Day One, and will continue to do so until The End. Yes, he’s carried out hits for Tony and undoubtedly kicks up a lot of money to him. However, Paulie constantly makes negative/inflammatory comments about Tony. Additionally, he always seems in cohoots with the NY faction, especially toward the end of this series. Maybe Tony decided not to whack Paulie after all because he knows how important it is to keep your friends close… and your enemies closer.


  41. “Tony’s hypocrisy gets highlighted by the conversation he has with AJ in front of the church that their forefathers built. ”
    I think there’s another aspect to the hypocrisy here – Tony impresses on AJ the fact that people still come to this church even though they’ve moved out of the neighbourhood because it is important, it ties the community together. AJ rightly asks, “so how come we don’t come here?” Tony will loudly proclaim his enthusiasm for these ideals but when it comes to actually living them? Eh, someone else can worry about that. And so communities disintegrate.

    Liked by 1 person

  42. Notes:
    Jake Steinfeld (‘Body by Jake’) is alive and well; he’s a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller, and has done some acting as well.
    According to Colin’s Review, actor Peter Riegert (‘Zellman’) was supposed to be naked while taking the beating from Tony, but was uncomfortable with the idea. To his credit, Gandolfini pushed Chase to change the scene. 😏


  43. You stunad, “watching too much television” means the same thing as “watching too many movies,” meaning someone believes some bullshit they saw on TV or in a movie.

    Liked by 1 person

  44. Rufus T Firefly

    Good Lord, you are a complete idiot as to why cities have lousy neighborhoods. You must have attended the same urban planning classes as song thief Massive Genius, Quit hitting that crack pipe.


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