The Sopranos TV Series Essay Example


During a TV show’s debut season it often takes a little bit of time for the show to come into its own, usually having a limited budget and an unestablished tone. However, that does not mean a show’s first season is not always destined to be the black sheep. The Sopranos is one of those rare examples in television where everything fell into place in just the right way at the right time to create a masterpiece. During the show’s inaugural season in 1999, it took home an Emmy award for best writing in an outstanding drama. For thirteen episodes, audiences got to experience the trials and tribulations of New Jersey mobster Tony Soprano as his harsh mafia lifestyle spilled over into his personal life. The show was praised for its portrayal of its characters and their morally ambiguous personalities, In that first season, there was one episode that perfectly showcased these very real and flawed mobsters. It is one of the best episodes of the show’s first year, if not the entire series, and it is only the third episode overall.

Originally premiering January 24th, 1999 The Sopranos season 1 episode 3 "Denial, Anger, Acceptance has a lot going on packed into its forty-five-minute run time. The title refers to the stages of grief Tony goes through with his friend Jackie Aprile as he succumbs to cancer. While visiting Jackie in the hospital, mob consigliere Silvio Dante informs Tony of a business proposition. The bulk of the episode sees Tony and his mobster crew going into a new business after the owner of a sleazy motel becomes indebted to them. After a disagreement regarding payment, Tony violently reprimands his new business partner, causing the terrified man to call him a monster, lacking a soul or decent human qualities. Despite having just kidnapped a man and threatened him with castration, this accusation deeply troubles Tony. During a session with Dr. Melfi, he questions whether he is a monster. It is a question that the episode does not offer an easy answer for. A subplot of the episode sees a fundraiser benefit a children’s hospital occurring at the Soprano residence.  Tony hires his best friend and chef, Artie Bucco to cater the fundraiser as a way of providing him with a stable business after the fire at his restaurant. The pair have a chat and Artie is still despondent from the loss of Vesuvio. When he rhetorically questions “who would burn down a perfectly good restaurant?”, Tony is visibly uncomfortable, despite only two episodes prior having convinced himself that burning down Vesuvio was the only option available to prevent an assassination from occurring in the establishment. By the end of the episode, the audience is presented with a harsh truth about Tony. He has no problem being an all-out rotten human being when he doesn't personally know who he is harming. Kidnapping and torturing a man is acceptable but seeing his friend sick in the hospital depresses him. Blowing up a restaurant is all in a day's work, but staring into the eyes of the man whose life he devastated isn't so easy. The episode ends with him being moved to tears by Meadow’s performance in the school choir. Tony is cruel, and sadistic yet deep down inside of him, he is an emotional man who loves his daughter.

Although Tony and his emotional plight serve as the backbone of the episode, his nephew Christopher’s emotions and contradictory patterns are also exemplified. When Meadow visits him looking for drugs to have the energy to study for her finals and perform in the school choir, he initially turns her away but becomes persuaded to sell some to her under the notion that it would be safer if she were to take drugs from him and not get them from some stranger in a bad neighborhood. Much like Tony with Artie’s restaurant, Christopher believes that he is making the best decision and is the one doing meadow the favor. Selling drugs is ok as long as he can control the quality of the substance given to Meadow and keep her safe from harm. While Tony is attending Meadow’s choir recital, Christopher finally gets his comeuppance from his actions in the prior episode. He is brutally beaten while his friend Brendan is shot through the eye as punishment for hijacking trucks under the protection of Tony’s Uncle Junior. Thinking the punishment is coming from Tony, Christopher begs and pleads with his attackers to show mercy, apologizing and saying he was trying to protect Meadow. The possibility of being reprimanded for disobeying Uncle Junior does not even come to mind. Hijacking trucks and stealing from others is acceptable as long as the people he loves, and respects are not the injured party.

When the Sopranos first premiered it took audiences by surprise. It was not an opera show as suggested by the title. It was an intriguing character study showcasing some of the most deplorable kinds of people. It made viewers question the nature of true evil. For 8 years we would explore the emotions of Tony Soprano and those closest to him, and it set the bar high from only the third episode in the show.

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