The upcoming Sopranos prequel, The Many Saints of Newark, will fill in a lot of blanks regarding Tony Soprano and his youth — but the trailer alone already confirms a theory about the mobster. HBO’s The Sopranos was explosively popular during its six seasons in the 2000s, and followed Tony (James Gandolfini), a New Jersey gangster, as he navigated the trials and tribulations of both his personal and crime families.
Tony was an incredibly layered character, but he was undeniably dysfunctional in many ways. A lot of that stemmed back to his family life and upbringing, specifically his toxic relationship with his mother, Livia (Nancy Marchand). Until her final appearance in The Sopranos season 3, Tony’s mom was emotionally unavailable, manipulative, mean, ungrateful, and self-pitying. Unfortunately for Tony, she was also the first, most vital template of womanhood during his youth.
There was a theme throughout The Sopranos of Tony subconsciously chasing relationships with women who reminded him of his mother — something Tony’s psychiatrist Dr. Jennifer Melfi suggested early on, much to his disgust. The Many Saints of Newark trailer implicitly confirms this via Vera Farmiga’s portrayal of a younger Livia Soprano. For the brief moments she’s featured, she looks remarkably similar to Edie Falco, who played Tony’s wife, Carmela, in the original series. And based on not only how Livia appears, but also how she acts in the trailer, it’s looking like Tony married a woman who had a more striking resemblance to his mother than fans had previously known. Both her voice and her sarcastic, dismissive snort toward Tony’s teacher are certainly too reminiscent of Carmela’s character during the six seasons of The Sopranos to be mere coincidence.
The series thoroughly explored Tony’s simultaneous love and hatred for his mom, with many of his conversations in therapy pertaining to their severely strained bond. And, since Tony was always such a womanizer throughout the show, he clearly had a penchant for chasing other emotionally unavailable and/or troubled women outside of his marriage. The most notable example was car saleswoman Gloria Trillo (Annabella Sciorra), his mistress who first appeared in season 3. She also struggled with her mental health, and she and Tony had a few increasingly volatile run-ins until he realized that she wasn’t stable enough for the relationship to continue. She was a beautiful, career-driven lady, but there was more to Tony’s attraction to her than that; there was something subtly (at first) familiar about her.
The Sopranos was a series of its very own, a brutal mobster drama that was fused with philosophy and psychology. Characters were often trying to make sense of their suffering, struggling to realize the unconscious behavioral loops they were repeating, and trying to decide what they truly wanted out of their lives. Unfortunately for Tony, he also grappled with these pursuits–and his painful relationship with his mother was a poor foundation for his romantic interactions with women and life in general. Surely, The Many Saints of Newark will flesh out more of the truth behind this show theory, as well as others.