Saturday, August 21, 2021

Rewatching The Sopranos, S1 E1 "Pilot"

Family Events: Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) has a lot going on in his life. Son Anthony, Junior (Robert Iler) turns thirteen, daughter Meadow (Jamie Lynn Siegler) rebels against wife Carmela (Edie Falco). Mother Livia (Nancy Marchand) resists the idea of assisted living and is generally unpleasant. Tony cheats on Carmela; Uncle Junior (Dominic Chianese) resents Tony's being in charge. Tony admits being in therapy to Carmela but does not disclose the fact that his therapist, Dr. Melfi (Lorraine Bracco) is a woman.

Mafia Events: Mahaffey is assaulted by Tony's nephew Christopher Moltisanti (Michael Imperioli) and Tony for defaulting on gambling debts, Christopher shows initiative by executing the son of one of Tony's waste management rivals. Hesh (Jerry Adler), a former colleague of Tony's father, helps Tony with a plan to extract the money owed by Mahaffey. Silvio Dante (Stevie van Zandt) informs Tony that Junior plans to kill rival Pussy Malanga inside childhood friend Artie Bucco's restaurant; Tony tries to get Artie (John Ventimiglia) to leave town but ends up destroying the restaurant in an explosion. Christopher feels unappreciated in his work and mentions writing a screenplay.

Mental Health Events: Tony meets Dr. Jennifer Melfi for therapy after panic attacks, storms out of first session when asked if he felt depressed. Returns for second session after collapsing at Green Grove Retirement Community with mother Livia. Tony describes mixed feelings about family of ducks in his pool. Melfi prescribes Prozac, which Tony takes. Tony skips a therapy appointment, begins to feel better, and assumes he won't need to return; Melfi suggests that talking about his thoughts and feelings is what is helping. Tony becomes tearful in a discussion over the ducks and realizes he is afraid of losing his family.

Significant Ideology: Tony's infidelities are referenced and later shown; he is a powerful, desirable man who has significant appetites in both women and lifestyle. His house is enormous, he dines in fancy restaurants, he plays golf. Yet the first thing he mentions to Dr. Melfi is that despite having "reached the heights," he still feels unsatisfied. Why? He's the boss, he's in charge, he has a family that loves him, what is the reason for his unhappiness? Spoiler alert: IT'S PROBABLY HIS MOTHER, but could it also have been his having bought into the the capitalist myth that money buys happiness? Material excess and extravagant lifestyle are indeed popular glamours of the mafia genre, the mob boss synonymous with unrestricted wealth and greed, but always at a price. Mafia films were once regulated by the Hays code (you could make a film about a criminal but he had to meet a violent end, because morals), so we're used to seeing consequences of negative or violent actions be realized, but what consequences can we expect in Anthony Soprano's story? Will therapy help, or is he better off not knowing what's at the heart of his anxiety and depression?

Italian Language: 

Sfogliatelle = Italian dessert pastry ("Hey girls, you want some of last night's sfogliatelle?").

Se dici = "If you say," (Junior yells this or something like it to Tony after he tells him not to get Anthony Junior anything big for his birthday).

Goomara = Mafia mistress. ("Well, havin' that goomara on the side helps," Carmela responds when Tony states that no marriage is perfect). 

vaffancul' = vaffanculo = F--- You ("Then it's dysfunction this, and dysfunction that, and dysfunction VAFFANCUL'!" Tony, to Dr. Melfi, describing Gary Cooper getting in touch with his feelings). 

Stugots = sto cazzo = personal possessive of male sex organ (Tony's boat is named "Stugots").

Buenosera = Good Evening (in restaurant).

da queste parte = around here (in restaurant).

Agita = shake ("I'm all agita all the time!" Junior, in solidarity with Livia's being very upset about the state of the world). 

Meet Livia: