What Did Soprano Fans Expect?

The question is asked, apparently, by series creator David Chase.

Oh – Oooh! Teacher! Teacher – ask me. Ask me!!

They expected an ending, perhaps?

Yes, the AstroWife and I are Sopranos fans. I haven’t seen part II of the last season, yet (just out on DVD). But even though I know a few of the plot lines and the infamous blackout-ending while Don’t Stop Believing by Journey plays in the background, I’ll be buying the last part. I’ve got the rest, seen each episode two or three (sometimes 4) times, was surprised at how much I had missed each time I saw an episode again, and I’m sure I’ll be seeing the whole thing, front to back, again before I’m through. I enjoy it.

But Chase, in an interview for his new book The Sopranos: The Complete Book, says he’s exasperated by viewers who were upset that Tony didn’t die at the end.

According to the AP:

[Tony] had been people’s alter ego. They had gleefully watched him rob, kill, pillage, lie and cheat. They had cheered him on. And then, all of a sudden, they wanted to see him punished for all that. They wanted ‘justice’…

I’m surprised Chase doesn’t know his audience. The people he’s talking about, Soprano fans, did exactly what Chase and the writers wanted them to do. They watched him, they understood his problems and dilemmas, they were appalled at his violence (and at the way he came to the conclusion that his violence was the only way out of his problems), and they even came to like him (but not cheer him on, for heaven’s sake). But they understood that Tony was not a good guy. They saw evil and thought, for seven seasons over ten years, that evil was being engaged (and confronted).

What they did not want was pretty much what Chase gave them; a true-to-life ambiguous denouement (not an ending). They did not want that because the entire series is then transformed instantly from a confrontation between good and evil (on many levels) to a “slice of life in N.J.” tale. That wrenching sound you heard last summer was the sound of millions of fans getting whiplash as their concept of the series was forced to change. It was – not pleasant.

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