What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this Emmy-winning adult mob drama is both realistic and violent. The edgy HBO series makes murder and assault just part of the landscape and makes heroes out of criminals. Some beatings are hard to watch, and the petty infighting between these mid-level wiseguys is anything but honorable. Older teens may well have heard of the show, but it's definitely meant for adults. (Note: The edited episodes running on basic cable do away with much of the swearing and nudity.)
What's the story?
Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) is a family man -- with a difference. He has a loving wife, Carmela (Edie Falco), and two college-age children, Meadow (Jamie-Lynn Siegler) and Anthony Jr. (Robert Iler), all of whom turn a blind eye to his other family. Tony is the boss of a New Jersey mafia clan, and the heart of this fascinating show is his conflicted efforts to juggle his responsibilities to both.
Is it any good?
THE SOPRANOS is amazingly violent, yet the savage beatings and offhand killings seem like just another day at the office for these brutal career criminals. The viewer is quickly sucked into their schemes and roots for them to pull off every job. But this series is less about big heists than it is about the petty jealousies and personal conflicts within every family, whether they're linked by blood or by an oath of loyalty.
The extensive supporting cast of hoodlums and family members (many people are both in this business) is both colorful and strong, providing endless demands on Tony's time, which further takes him away from his real family. This is a series that repeatedly questions the meaning of duty and the power of loyalty. Both are thought-provoking matters that could be interesting for older teens, but The Sopranos isn't a show that kids should watch lightly, no matter how mature they seem.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about how the rigid social structure within the mafia relies on the value of keeping your word and the importance of loyalty. Which comes first -- obeying the law or family?
Are any of the characters' criminal actions in any way justifiable? Does the end ever justify the means?
How does the violence on this show compare to that in others you've seen? Why can some channels get away with stronger content than others?