The Sopranos

The Sopranos: 10 Major Flaws Of The Show That Fans Choose To Ignore

The Sopranos is one of the best-written series in TV history, but even a show of its caliber has some flaws that fans chose to ignore, like these 10.

The Sopranos will definitely go down in television history as a pathbreaker series that paved the way for the post-2010 prestige era of TV. Of course, David Chase and Co. were attempting something one-of-a-kind and nothing like this had been made for TV before.

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Nevertheless, as relevant and timeless as The Sopranos is, it does have its share of flaws and errors. Most of them have escaped even the most observant modern viewer, but if the broader narrative of the show is considered, these glitches seem quite significant.

The Confusing Tone And Genre

Tony Soprano and his crew meet members of the Lupertazzi Crime Family

The creator of The Sopranos, David Chase, had often talked about how he wanted to design a show that was ambiguous in genre since networking companies at that time weren’t keen to work on something like this. “The Sopranos was ambiguous to the point where, to this day, I’m not really sure whether it was a drama or a comedy. It can be both, but people like to reduce it to one or the other,” he said in an interview.

But the show did struggle to find the equilibrium between genres, especially as the tone got grimmer and more complex, and comedic elements started to feel misplaced. It wasn’t an out-and-out drama and neither was it a true-blue dark comedy and so it sometimes struggled to find its niche.

Junior’s Inconsistent Age

Tony and Junior in The Sopranos.

Junior’s year of birth is revealed in the third season of the show to be 1929, which means he would be in his 70s when the show premiered. But in season 5, the headstone of Junior’s younger brother, Johnny Boy, shows Junior’s birth year to be 1924.

Moreover, in the second season, Junior’s lawyer, Harold, tells a judge that Junior had fought in the Second World War. But if Junior was born in 1929, he would be in 16 years old in 1945 when the war ended, and one had to be at least 18 to enlist. While sometimes boys lied about their age in order to enlist, this is nonetheless an inconsistency in the writing.

Tony’s Gambling Addiction Storyline Felt Strange

Tony Soprano in a white bath robe

The Sopranos offered a keen look into male mental health, something that to this day has not found enough space in pop culture. The show’s approach to the human psyche, in general, was rich and nuanced and the mafia background only made the observations grittier and earthy. But in the final season, when Tony starts struggling with his gambling addiction, some fans felt that it comes across as somewhat ill-crafted and unfulfilling as an arc.

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When one thinks about everything Tony has gone through and the odds he has beaten throughout the course of the show, it seemed strange that he would be completely undone by a gambling problem. It’s not unrealistic, since it’s obviously a real issue, it’s more that it was allowed to escalate quite randomly without much context.

The Flashbacks

Jackie Aprile Jr in a white tee and plaid shirt in The Sopranos

For a show that was so incredibly detailed, the flashback sequences in The Sopranos were somewhat sloppy in terms of their art direction and costuming. The Christmas episode in season 3, “To Save Us All From Satan’s Power” takes the viewers back six years and the costume department only uses minimal and basic visual cues, like stereotypical retro clothing and a toupee for Tony and his gang, which does look somewhat lazy.

What’s worse, Jackie Aprile Jr. (Jason Cerbone) who was playing his teenage self, looked the same and also had the same mannerisms, even as a teen.

Devin’s Weird Arc

AJ Sopranos in a dark jacket at Devin's mansion facing Devin in a blue sweatshirt and lavender shawl The Sopranos

Season 4 of the show pulls an Entourage and builds up a romantic partner’s arc only to make her disappear without any explanation. AJ starts dating Devin in the fourth season and the writers actually flesh out her character quite well. Devin is also very wealthy – her home is protected by security posts and her family owns quite a few pieces of expensive art and rare first pressings of albums.

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Her wealth actually leads AJ to question why his father does not have “Don Corleone” money. But despite crafting a significant arc for Devin, her character is never heard of post season 5, and if AJ broke up with her, which he clearly did, it’s never addressed why.

The Mentally Imbalanced Mistress Trope

Tony and his mistress Gloria Trillo kiss inside her apartment in The Sopranos

It’s a weird coincidence that all of Tony’s mistresses seem to have severe emotional issues when they feel threatened or abandoned. Except for Svetlana, almost all of Tony’s extramarital love interests seem to have quite a lot of hang-ups and after a point, especially after Gloria, the stereotypical unstable goomah trope felt a bit repetitive for some.

Not only that, but it is a played-out trope that doesn’t paint women, in general, in the best light and relies on the stereotype of the “woman scorned.”

Furio’s Storyline Was Wasted

Carmela in a blue sweater dances with Furio in a printed black and white shirt in The Sopranos

Putting Furio and Carmela in a love story and then hastily doing away with his arc was a huge waste of Furio’s storyline that had so much potential.

The subplot did allow Carmela to show more range and introduced quite a bit of angst to her character, but Furio’s character design felt quite wasteful, especially with the dramatic helicopter crash with Tony, which many felt was also unnecessary and contributed nothing to the broader narrative of their characters.

Season 1 Does Not Have The Appeal Of The Other Seasons

The Sopranos season 1 and 6

Many millennial viewers of the show have claimed that it took them quite a while to get into The Sopranos, mainly because they didn’t find the first season appealing enough. This makes sense because younger viewers who are more familiar with noir or gangster-themed TV series like FargoNarcos or even Breaking Bad, might feel that The Sopranos is a little too slow-burning in comparison.

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Viewers who have come back to the first season to re-watch it from the beginning have appreciated its little details, but the first season is not great for first-time viewers.

Tony’s Style Jumps Between Classy And Nouveau Riche

James Gandolfini Tony the Sopranos

It’s a wonder more fans haven’t talked about how inconsistent Tony’s wardrobe is: it has nothing to do with his character progression. Tony spent quite a lot on his wardrobe, the bona fide Italian leather jackets and sharp suits he reserved for his formal meetings or certain professional dealings were clearly high-end and possibly designer, but he was also seen in loud, graphic shirts or retro bowling shirts that were very in sync with New Jersey mafia stereotypes.

Tony was depicted as someone who doesn’t want New Yorkers to laugh at him, hence the attempt to class up his wardrobe. And he was, in fact, nouveau riche since he didn’t come from money, but for someone who spends so much to look good, he certainly spent a lot of time flaunting items that most people outside of his New Jersey circle would look down upon.

The Last Dr. Melfi Scene

Lorraine Bracco as Dr. Jennifer Melfi in The Sopranos

The premise of a gangster seeing a psychiatrist is what anchored the entire show, and after years of build up between Tony and Dr. Melfi, for her to simply show him the door felt like a wasted opportunity for both actors.

She was one of the most important women in Tony’s life and also on the show but the end to their relationship was enormously unfulfilling. It was neither cathartic nor nuanced and didn’t do justice to the years of trust and drama they built together.

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