She doesn’t order hits or gets hunted down by the FBI, but Carmela still has some of the best story arcs in the HBO hit series The Sopranos. As the imperfect wife and mother, she comes off as a very relatable character, so it’s no surprise that actress Edie Falco has three Emmys for her portrayal of the character.
Carmela’s personality is defined by contradictions. She complains about AJ’s behavior, but still prevents Tony or anyone else from punishing him. She complains about Tony’s career, but not only does she accept expensive gifts from him, she also uses her status as a mob-wife to intimidate others. Most importantly, she doesn’t hesitate to let her feelings known.
“After 19 Years Of Marriage, I Find It Very Sad That We Have To Pay Someone To Teach Us How To Interact.”
Tony’s wife and children are the only people who can frustrate him on a constant basis without suffering any consequences. Still, he keeps wishing Carmela would give him fewer headaches. After he complains about her several times during his therapy sessions with Dr. Melfi, she asks her to come with him next time. Tony doesn’t like the idea, but he agrees to it.
Carmela doesn’t like the idea either, but she agrees to go. During the session, she isn’t too friendly to Dr. Mefli, as she feels the therapist is favoring Tony more. Later on, she tells Tony how sad it is that they have to be taught how to coexist, despite having been married for so long.
“You Are A Cross To Bear. That’s All You Are. To Your Father, To Me, To Everybody.”
AJ has rarely made his parents proud. He’s neither been bright enough to succeed in school and in the white-collar world, like Meadow nor tough enough to join the New Jersey underworld, like his father.
After Junior shoots Tony, AJ loses it. He tries to buy a gun in order to kill Junior and then talks to the press, saying how stressful it is to be a member of the Soprano family. Carmela becomes furious when she realizes what AJ has done. She and Tony had always told him and Meadow to never speak to the press. Carmela thus goes on an emotional rant about how AJ is a burden to them all.
“Getting My Wine In Position To Throw In Your Damn Face.”
Soon after Tony starts getting counseling sessions in the first season, he decides to tell Carmela about it. He takes her to dinner where he implies that he is about to tell her something important.
Given Tony’s history, Carmela thinks that he is about to confess that he’s been cheating on her. She grabs her wine glass, ready to throw the contents in his face. She makes sure to let him know what’s coming. When he tells her about Dr. Melfi, she breathes a sigh of relief. Therapy is a big deal to Tony, but not that big of a deal to Carmela, compared to matters such as infidelity.
“An Accessory After The … Holy Sh*t!”
Days prior to their wedding, Janice kills Richie after a domestic argument goes sour. Tony gets rid of the body and then sends Janice away. He then tells Carmela that Janice decided to go back to Seattle, but Carmela doesn’t understand since it’s only a few days to the wedding and according to her, the two were in love.
She wonders how devastated Richie must be, but Tony tells her that Richie is gone. She keeps asking Tony where Richie has gone to, but Tony refuses to say. He politely warns her to not make herself an accessory. It takes a while for Carmela to realize that Tony means that Richie is dead and he doesn’t want her to know any details that might implicate her.
“Well, I Didn’t Marry A Cartoon Character.”
Despite Tony’s numerous transgressions, Carmela has always loved him. After living separately for while, the two reconcile and Tony moves back in. He also agrees to offer her $600,000 for a house she wants to build.
Tony tells Carmela that she will have to accept him for who he is. He quotes the Popeye cartoon character, saying: “Like Popeye says, ‘I yam what I yam.'” The quote doesn’t impress Carmela. She tells him that she didn’t marry a cartoon character, hence he should start behaving like a sensible human being.
“We Have Got Guns Here.”
Tony has had numerous mistresses and his philandering ways finally catch up with him in the season 4 finale. An angry and drunk Irina calls the Soprano home to expose the man’s infidelities.
AJ is the first to pick up the phone and though Carmela is glad that she finally has evidence against Tony, she isn’t too glad about the children knowing about it. On the phone, she threatens Irina, warning her to never call the house again. If she does, she will track her down and shoot her, because they have lots of guns in the house.
“What’s Different Between You And Me Is You’re Going To Hell When You Die!”
In the pilot episode, Carmela clearly sees herself as morally superior to Tony. She doesn’t kill or beat up people and she also spends plenty of nights with a preacher. During one of her conversations with Tony, she bluntly tells him that he’s going to hell.
But future episodes prove that Carmela isn’t exactly the perfect candidate for heaven either. She kisses a painter, cheats on Tony with AJ’s guidance counselor, and even lusts over Tony’s soldier, Furio. Not to mention that she threatens Joan into signing a letter of recommendation for Meadow.
“It Followed You Home?”
Throughout the series, Carmela keeps wanting reassurances about the family’s financial security because she is aware that as a mob boss, Tony can get whacked any time and she doesn’t want to suffer when he is gone.
Soon after Tony begins earning a lot of money from the racehorse that Ralphie acquires, Carmela asks him to sign a life insurance trust. When she realizes some of Tony’s earnings come from a racehorse, she asked him if he bought one. He says he didn’t, then she sarcastically wonders if it followed him then, since he didn’t buy it.
“More Is Lost By Indecision Than By Wrong Decision.”
When Carmela gets confirmation of Tony’s infidelities, she decides to leave him for good. It’s a big decision, but one she is certain she has to make because she is tired of Tony cheating on her all the time. The decision is also influenced by the fact that Carmela is madly in love with Furio.
She is right that quick decisions matter more. Staying with Tony for this long has only made her hate him more. Perhaps if she left him earlier, she wouldn’t have been tempted to do the same thing as him – being unfaithful.
“It’s The Boston Strangler … Jesus, Ma.”
Apart from constantly yelling at her husband, Carmela’s mother, Mary, is often paranoid. Part of this has to do with the fact that her daughter is married to a mob boss.
A scene in season 3’s “He Is Risen” shows the Soprano family having dinner. When Mary hears the door ringing, she freaks out and wonders who it could be. Carmela, who isn’t too pleased with her mother’s paranoia, jokes that it’s the 60s serial killer dubbed the “Boston Strangler,” said to have murdered 13 women.