The Great Mockery

On The TV series The Sopranos.

This post is NSFW.

The electronic book of knowledge has this as its first sentence about the American TV series The Sopranos: “…an American television drama…” Stop the presses! As of the writing of this worst-post, I’m in the fifth season of the series. I started watching the series around Jan/Feb 2013. Of course, I had been curious about the show for a while because I kept reading about how well written it was. In case you’re unaware, for worst-writer, writing is everything! As far as actually watching TV… it takes me a while to catch on.

Based on what I’ve seen, this TV show– verisimilitude be damned–is worth all the praise. But worst-writer has also discovered something about it. First, The Sopranos is not a drama. Second, if it is not a drama, then what is it? Is it a Soap? Format and structure aren’t far off. But the acting is to good. The only other alternative is that this show is a Sitcom. Is that even possible? Could The Sopranos be a Sitcom like any American sitcom — except that this one has grown up, got caught up in the wrong crowd, been galavanting around the neighbourhood at ungodly hours and suddenly found itself drug addicted and hooked on steroids? Which reminds me of an old American saying: better living through chemicals, baby. (Remember that the next time you have American beef and watch this show at the same time.)


There are those who could easily argue worst-writers pseudo philosophising and pseudo conclusions about American TV genres. Since I’ve been living abroad for so long and have missed a couple decades of American TV programming, perhaps I have a bit of an outside perspective on worst-judging this stuff. That said. I love this show. This is really, really good TV. The writing, at times, is stupefyingly beautiful. And it is in that writing-beauty where I have discovered something hidden. The problem is worst-writer didn’t know at first what to call the hidden. Since I’ve spent almost a quarter century speaking a second language, every once-a-once I can find a German word to describe what I can’t find in English. The word that comes to mind when trying to figure out what to call The Sopranos is Verarschung. Without generalising too much about languages, there are times when German complexity suits the situation just fine. Here a worst-writer translation of the word Verarschung which brought me to the English word I was looking for:

  • To mock
  • To kid around
  • To pull the wool over
  • To muck about
  • To joke at someone else’s expense
  • Are you fuckin’ wid’ me?
  • To play him/her for a sucker/fool
  • Take him/her for the proverbial ride, etc.


Dark Humour Politics

Ok, maybe I’m stretching things a bit. And I shouldn’t try to categorise this show. I mean, it is a break-thru, right? It’s obviously complex and full of plot and the critics have gone wild over it. Besides, watching this show almost ten years after it ended is an indication of how long I’ve been out of the American (TV) loop. Or maybe it is an indication how little TV I watch and am therefore NOT susceptible to Kool-Aid washing away the subtleties that define this show. Let me repeat that: The Sopranos, as an American TV series, as a break-thru art-form, is only defined by its subtleties and some very, very special sauce. Add to that that this show is hi-larry-us and at the same time unbelievably political and socially critical (so much for defining the special sauce, eh). It incorporates all this by disguising its politics behind a stereotype and filtering/sifting everything else through the American collective reality distortion field and then packaging it all in the obsessive and compulsive nature of today’s America. A perfect backdrop (0r front-drop) for Mafia story telling. I mean, is there any other story genre that Americans love more? Is it the rags to riches genre? Or what about the underdog genre? Heck, remember Rocky? That film was all the above.

And so. This is some of the most incredible TV I’ve ever seen where the American Dream is portrayed but it’s NOT fiction. For the first time The Sopranos TV show is the embodiment of the fail-upwards greed mongering of the Baby Boomer generation galore at 16:9 HD (after the first season, of course). After the fourth seasons I’m worst-wondering if the writers of this show were aware of what they created. But smart people with all this success don’t just get lucky. Or do they? No they don’t. But those same smart people may have filtered some of what they’ve learned from the world to make this such a success. Indeed. The Sopranos is the first American form of dark humour comparable to the French Les Guignols de l’info or British Monty Python. With that in mind, may Euro-influenced caricature, political and social satire rule the future of American TV.


Obviously, comparing The Sopranos to French political comedy doesn’t work. The Monty Python comparison won’t hold up in a debate either. So let me just worst-say this: The Sopranos is a mockery (Verarschung). But it is not a mockery of the Mafia or TV. No. It is a mockery of America and Americans. This show portrays what every patriarchal American household dreams of ever since Ben Franklin spent spring break with Thomas Jefferson and both fought over who invented the wet t-shirt contest, which is the forerunner to all beauty pageants, and, considering where we are today, proof that everything else they invented is now a mockery. Or didn’t you know that about the wet t-shirt contest? And don’t forget. America doesn’t evolve. We devolve and we do it very successfully. So shut the fuck up. And. When will America reveal humanity’s inner-ape?

Enter Tony Soprano. The American Alfa-Male with a silver back and a dream mansion in New Jersey. Oh. And to keep the dipshit audience laughing, don’t forget ape-mans psychological counselling where Freud mother-complexes shine and he can address his hot therapist as slut, cunt and bitch without recourse. Yeah, baby. “Therapy” is the perfect dark humour form of confession. And we Americans love confessions. For it allows us to be forgiven (and held politically and socially unaccountable) for our sins. And so. The Sopranos is/was our confessional. Pretty cool what Mafia story telling had in-store for us, eh? And you know what else they say about confessions, don’t you worst-reader? That’s right. While in that confessional no one can hear you except…

Ok. Even though I might be disrespectful, I don’t wish to be blasphemous. I suppose I should steer away from involving the Church in this worst-post. So here a short list of the entertaining dysfunction that is The Sopranos mirror of American’t:

  • Like a child, when confronted with doing something wrong, deny it. That’s right. Just deny all the murdering, the cheating, the lying. Denying is good for the soul while that soul has yet to die. And the way Tony goes about lying, now that is some hi-larry-us-leefunny stuff.
  • Learn your history from The History Channel. Think you know history because your parents come from the rot of the old country? Don’t worry. Like Tony and his “family” you are a soldier of god of your own arrogant, misogynist, mother fucking, cock-sucking making.
  • Prozac. Better living through chemicals, baby.
  • Obsessive compulsive behaviour with desperate women incapable of recognising ugly. Just get married and if you can’t get married, pretend. Women must be hot in order to get married. Husband ugly which is ok if you got money. Nothing more real than that.
  • The Baby Boomer generation. Hoodlum dreams that reward underachievement, horde all that’s left for the future and prove that crime is the last resort to getting paid. Worst-writer does not like Boomers.
  • Has anybody ever seen people eat so much on TV before? Feel good food for a rotten soul, baby.
  • Dysfunction manifest in the dirty sperm-spawn of post godfather part IV.5 forever.
  • Etc.


One more thing about this “break-thru” show. I almost cried as much as I laughed while watching it. Reason? I’ve already faced the mirror.

RIP James Gandolfini.


Rant on.