The Big "Fuck You" Scenes - Tony, Carmella and Fly

#1
I've been distressed lately about my friend Fly's feelings of despair over Tony's inability to progress with his therapy.

I recall two recent and remarkably vivid scenes played out between Tony and Carmella where they essentially tell each other "Fuck You" and throw things at each other. The most recent was about AJ and his problems somehow being Tony's fault. According to Carmella, they were not partially Tony's fault or even mostly Tony's fault. The fault was entirely Tony's and his side of their family. What's more, Carmella was horrifically savage. After viewing that scene, I will never again doubt that mental or emotional cruelty can be any less savage than physical cruelty and I was struck with the fact that she did not offer Tony a single drop of mercy or possible reconcilliation. She made it abundantly clear that her side of the family was totally blameless - the blame somehow emanating completely from Tony's side of the family.

There was another scene recently - or perhaps it would be more accurate to call it an explosion. It was about Carm's spec house. Tony called it her "bullshit", but the fight was not really on until Tony claimed that he could have turned her "bullshit" into a million bucks if only she would have shown the kind of faith in him that any wife should have in her husband. Then, the fight was really on.

Now, both of these fights were savage - real horror shows - and either one would have almost certainly been fatal to any real life marriage. I don't know about any of you, but I felt real physical signs of terror during the first fight - and this is no cliche - no figurative speech; my heart was pounding; my body felt as if someone was really pointing a gun at me - in real life. I felt terrified - really and truly terrified. But I would really like to try and understand if my feelings during the second fight were lessened because I had felt that way during the previous week or if the second scene was just less terrifying than the first. Could any of you provide me with your experience here?

The fact that Tony and Carmella have a TV marriage that is controlled by screenwriters makes things very different from real life. But how in the world could anyone in a real life marriage persist in that marriage after their spouse has sprayed them with the kind of poison that these two spit at each other during those two fights? I've never been married and that may well make it more difficult for me to understand. But I surely would appreciate if any of you married folks could help me to understand this.

By the way, to be fair, I see Tony as the primary villian in the first fight whereas I see Carm as the primary villian in the second, but that is not really the point. My point is about Fly and the millions of other people who have real-life feelings and who can't help but be impacted by these scenes. I am a middle-aged man and feel that I am much like many other men with respect to my feelings. I tend to bury my feelings and do not go around wanting to "share my feelings" - even though I understand it would be more healthy to try and come to terms with my feelings. But these two scenes - in particular - and the many events surrounding these scenes have made a huge impact on me and on my feelings about my family - and it has not been good. As a matter of fact, it's been pretty fucking awful.

We've seen Fly express her sadness over Tony's inability to come to terms with his feelings after he murdered Chris. I don't know how much Fly and others have wrapped up these two fights into a package that deals with Tony's psyche. But I see them (the two fights) as being central to the sadness. Well ... really ... let's call a Spade a Spade. My true reaction was one of horror - not sadness. When I heard Carmella tell Tony (in so many words) that their son's suicide attempt was entirely his fault due to his family's gene pool. my reaction was one of horror. How can anyone go on living with their spouse after something like that? And how can anyone who is close to the couple (like anyone in their immediate family and people who are close friends or neighbors and even people who were just witness to the exchange) go on and continue to live with this couple as if nothing happened?

When I was 12, my father was hosptialized with a brain tumor and the doctors gave him only a 25 percent chance of living. My mother was anguished about this and lashed out at me in anger. She screamed at me that it was my fault that my father took sick because I had misbehaved approx one week previous. Now, even at age 12, I knew that it wasn't true - my misbehavior was not the reason he got a brain tumor. Brain tumors do not happen within a week of some cause. But I hated my mother from that moment, until today. I hated her with a deep and strong passion and I still hate her. Her lashing out at me was not the only reason I hated her. That had been building for quite some time, but it was a clarifying moment for me. I moved out of the house at age 17 and my father died 8 years later. The cause of his death had nothing to do with his brain tumor. But I was happy that he died and I never felt the slightest remorse over his death. Someone in this forum once gave me a hard time about posting these kinds of details here. They implied it wasn't relevent. But I think this is definitely relevant to our discussions of the Soprano family - to understand the kind of harm can be done in a family when one member blames a family tragedy on one of the other family members - like Carmella did to Tony and like AJ did to Carmella.

These two fights were such horrific events, that I think most anyone who witnessed them could probably benefit from some form of therapy - even if it's just a group discussion. In any event, I feel like someone stabbed me in the guts after witnessing these recent "Fuck You" exchanges and after witnessing Fly's (as well as other peoples') reaction to them. I want to ask if any of you have ever had a close friend or family member who suffered some serious trauma that you witnessed first hand? By that, I mean witnessing a friend or family member being killed or seriously injured in a violent way? Perhaps a car accident? Or some other kind of serious injury or death caused by a physical trauma that caused people to have their insides spilled out onto the ground? I'm sorry to be so graphic. But that is the kind of level of violence that I think we all experienced after those two exchanges between Tony and Carm and I think there actually may have been more than just two.

I started this thread because I think that Fly was not the only person who got clobbered by this level of violence. I am not very much in touch with my feelings. But I do feel kind of dizzy after seeing this violence and reading some peoples' reactions to it - not just Fly - although mostly Fly.

I feel like someone picked me up, spun me around and then dumped me out on my head. And I don't know exactly what to do about that. I feel like I've been shit on somehow and I'd like to know if anyone else feels similar, what is there to be done about it - to try and feel better? Is it reasonable to try and bring this up in a group therapy discussion - for those of us who occasionally participate in group therapy or similar meetings?

Re: The Big "Fuck You" Scenes - Tony, Carmella and Fly

#2
Splishak, I understand completely. I, too, am a middle-aged man, and sharing feelings is tough for men of our generation. On a personal note, I have learned to do that though, because I was in a very disfunctional marriage. I was once married to Beelzebub, daughter of Satan (but that's another story). I sought counseling so I would never be in that situation again, and fortunately I havent.

One of the things I try to remember is that this is a VERY disfunctional family. These kinds of tirades are nothing new and not unexpected. And remember, disfunction does not mean that the marriage does not work--it means the marriage works on a sick level. Tony and Carm have learned over the years to function inside this wreck of a marriage because each one of them gets their main needs met from it. For Tony, he gets his family security needs met. For Carm, she gets her financial, and to a lesser extent, her security needs met. Both are in heavy denial of the entire situation. Tony thinks he has a good marriage. Carm thinks she has an all-American family. Remember when she said AJ had always been a happy boy? That's her blatant denial. AJ has never been happy unless he was breaking some kind of rule or doing something wrong--almost all of which was a cry for attention.

AJ and Meadow are merely byproducts of the union and have adapted according to their own needs. Meadow, by virtue of her education and intelligence, has distanced herself from the center of the storm. AJ, on the other hand, because of his lack of natural intelligence, poor education, and weak character has been swallowed up in it. In therapy terms, Meadow is the hero child and AJ is the designated patient (the one with all the problems). When Meadow told AJ he was "the son" who would always come first in their culture, showed that she learned the reality of her situation at a young age and adapted accordingly.

There are tens of millions of such families throughout the US, and why we don't have more family violence is astounding considering the situation. These sick families almost never recover without some catastrophic event which causes them to reasses their lives and priorities. Many of them end in divorce. Unfortunately, however, most of them continue on their sick paths creating sick children who create new, sick relationships. It's a terrible cycle that almost never breaks. It's that hopelessness that we're seeing at work on the Sopranos.

That "fuck you" scene is nothing new for Tony and Carm, and if they both live, there will be many more of them in the future. They hang together because each one thinks the other is at fault for their situation, and they both insanely wait for the day when the other one will miraculously change, see the error of their ways, and then the marriage will be wonderful. Sadly, that never happens. DC has done a great job capturing this, and it makes me think he must have grown up in a disfunctional family, or at least have been in one.

Splish, on a personal level, what I did was join a men's therapy group. I learned to: 1) trust other men; 2) discover what real masculinity is; and 3), inside this safe group, learned how to spill my guts in a theraputic way. I, too, spent years "carrying baggage" around, and it sucks. That's how I ended up in a bad marriage. Because of therapy, I wound up in a great marriage. Therapy is definitely worth the effort.
Christofuh says: "Tony has big decisions to make, like whether or not to have that third sandwich..." :icon_razz:

Re: The Big "Fuck You" Scenes - Tony, Carmella and Fly

#3
Long post....These arguments aren't all that uncommon in a marriage. I don't know who's to "blame" in either one, but he first one felt like it was going to turn to physically violent. Tony was close to hitting Carmella. The second one was more cutting to me because it was more verbally abusive.

I am a middle aged woman. As a young woman I blamed my parents for stuff in my life that went wrong. I went through a period of not speaking to my dad, but then I kinda got the bus thing with him. My relationship is different with him now. I don't have the same expectations from him. I got married had kids, who are now flying the coop so I relate to Tony and Carm. When things go wrong with the kids it's common to blame the 'genes' of the other parent. I don't know why. The movie Parenthood captured it too. When the little boy had problems Steve Martin jumped up and blamed Mary Steenburger for smoking pot in college. It was funny as hell, but a natural, albeit immature reaction. The bottom line is you get what you get with your kids, not what you wanted. You learn that you have to accept them for who they are and not try to change them. I think I've got that too. When Melfi asked Tony if he was ashamed of AJ, I was yelling at the TV, "Yes, say yes Tony cause you are!". I was happy he acknowledged it. Sounds sick, but it was so spot on it was palpable.

Ok, the real epiphany for me happened about a year ago, when I realized that my kids got what they got with me. My husband made a choice, they didn't. I cannot bullshit my kids with the image of what I want them to think I am. They have their own perception. That hit me like a ton of bricks.

That's what I'm waiting for Tony to get. Seems like in a relatively short time he 'got' his mom is the bus thing. He acknowledged he is embarrased about his son and seems to be accepting that he inherited his depression. I'm still not 100% sure he got his dad issues resolved. What disppoints me is that he hasn't realized what he's done to his children. Carm got it when she had that Melfi session and admitted their complicity during Tony's coma.

I want Tony to accept responsibility. I still think he will but it will be too late for him and Carm.

I do think Carm and Tony is a love story, full of regrets and struggle. I keep coming back to the Springsteen song, One Step Up and Two Steps Back. Lyrics below. I think it sums up the Carm/Tony relationship with it's frustrations and regrets, but underlying love.

"Woke up this morning my house was cold
Checked out the furnace she wasn't burnin'
Went out and hoped in my old Ford
Hit the engine but she ain't turnin'
We've given each other some hard lessons lately
But we ain't learnin'
We're the same sad story that's a fact
One step up and two steps back

Bird on a wire outside my motel room
But he ain't singin'
Girl in white outside a church in June
But the church bells they ain't ringing
I'm sittin' here in this bar tonight
But all I'm thinkin' is
I'm the same old story same old act
One step up and two steps back

It's the same thing night on night
Who's wrong baby who's right
Another fight and I slam the door on
Another battle in our dirty little war
When I look at myself I don't see
The man I wanted to be
Somewhere along the line I slipped off track
I'm caught movin' one step up and two steps back

There's a girl across the bar
I get the message she's sendin'
Mmm she ain't lookin' to married
And me well honey I'm pretending
Last night I dreamed I held you in my arms
The music was never-ending
We danced as the evening sky faded to black
One step up and two steps back "


Sorry for the long post

Re: The Big "Fuck You" Scenes - Tony, Carmella and Fly

#4
Splishak wrote:
Now, both of these fights were savage - real horror shows - and either one would have almost certainly been fatal to any real life marriage. I don't know about any of you, but I felt real physical signs of terror during the first fight - and this is no cliche - no figurative speech; my heart was pounding; my body felt as if someone was really pointing a gun at me - in real life. I felt terrified - really and truly terrified. But I would really like to try and understand if my feelings during the second fight were lessened because I had felt that way during the previous week or if the second scene was just less terrifying than the first. Could any of you provide me with your experience here?

The fact that Tony and Carmella have a TV marriage that is controlled by screenwriters makes things very different from real life. But how in the world could anyone in a real life marriage persist in that marriage after their spouse has sprayed them with the kind of poison that these two spit at each other during those two fights? I've never been married and that may well make it more difficult for me to understand. But I surely would appreciate if any of you married folks could help me to understand this.



I can see that you have never been married. In real life people have arguments ALL the time. No couple gets along all the time. Many times in these arguments people say things that they don't mean to each other. A strong marriage is one that can withstand these types of things. If two people truely love each other then they will understand that sometimes in the heat of the moment the other person may say something that they don't really mean and they will work it out when they have calmed down.

As far as you being actually physically afraid like someone was pointing a gun at you when Tony and Carmella were arguing over the spec house...well that is a little extreme. Perhaps if you are so involved in this show that you become legitimately afraid for your life during intense scenes you should either watch the show with the lights on or not watch it at all.

You also mentioned that anyone who witnessed these horrific events could benefit from some sort of group therapy. I have a problem with that on several levels. First of all its still television. Secondly the scenes were not all that horrific, they were merely two seperate arguments between a husband and his wife. No one was hit, no one was shot, no one was thrown off a building. If you cannot handle adult dialog and intense moments then frankly the Sopranos is not the show for you. The main problem I have with your statement about therapy is that I feel that therapy is bullshit. People who are so pathetic that they cannot handle their own problems are the people that go to therapy. Just because you witness an argument between two people that have nothing to do with you doesn't mean that you need to go and line some therapists pockets. Why anyone would go spend hundreds of dollars to tell another person their problems is beyond me. In this show we have seen Tony go to therapy for the better part of ten years. He has had no breakthroughs, he is the same man he has always been. This is not an accident, people are who they are no matter what kind of therapist or counselor they go see. Tony is a murderous adulterer with a type A personality who endulges in many vices to excess and he ALWAYS will be that type of person. The only thing that will change him is him not what some therapist tells him.

I have just used Tony as an example because we are all familiar with him but the truth of the matter is, is that we are all the same. We might not all have the same faults as Tony Soprano but we do all have a choice to make. We decide who we are and how long we want to be that person, not therapy. People go to therapy seeks answers and wanting someone to tell them how to live when what they should be doing is just making the necessary changes on their own.

In short Therapy is Bullshit!!! What happened to Gary Cooper? The strong, silent type.

Re: The Big "Fuck You" Scenes - Tony, Carmella and Fly

#5
As far as you being actually physically afraid like someone was pointing a gun at you when Tony and Carmella were arguing over the spec house...well that is a little extreme ...


I want to thank you very much for your insightful comments about marriage. I understand what you said about people fighting but knowing that they didn't mean the terrible things that they said in the heat of the moment.

That helped me a lot to understand what goes on in a marriage. Of course, you are correct. In case I didn't make it clear, I have never been married and I feel pretty clueless about what goes on in a marriage.

Now, as far as being actually physically afraid, like someone was pointing a gun at me, that was not extreme. It was actually true. I really did feel that way and I chalk it up to the extreme acting talent and abilities on the part of Edie Falco and James Gandolfini. Those two really made me believe that there was that level of tension and potential for violence in the air. I can understand why you might not believe that I actually experienced those physical responses, but I swear to you that I really and truly did. Furthermore, I need to say that the level of acting ability and perhaps also the level of ability of some of the other people involved in the production was so great that I could actually feel that way from a television production.

I know that some people have experienced strong emotions in some movies in movie theatres. I've heard and seen people scream and cry in a movie theatre. But I've rarely seen anything like that in someone's home when they are watching the TV. In any case, all I can do is swear to you that I'm telling you the truth. I really did experience that level of emotional response as a result of that scene as it played out on my TV. And I have to pay tribute to the producers, director and actors involved in the production for making that happen. It is just a tribute to the enormous talent and skill of all of those involved.

So, thank you for sharing your insights into married life with me. I really appreciate that and I hope you can believe me about my reaction to the TV show, because I am indeed telling you the truth.

In short Therapy is Bullshit!!! What happened to Gary Cooper? The strong, silent type.


I can go along with you there for many cases. However, I think you might be willing to admit that there are cases of people who are seriously injured or damaged and who need some kind of help with their mental and emotional problems. If you are willing to agree with that, then it is not a big leap to the proposition that many people in our sociecty today can benefit from regularly scheduled sessions with a therapist like Dr. Melfi to help them cope with their everyday emotional or mental problems - even if it is just on a short term or limited term basis.

So, in that respect, I'm afraid that I have to disagree with the proposition that therapy is Bulshit!! It seems to me that under the proper circumstances and with the right people, therapy can be just as healing to emotional and mental problems as Chiropractic treatment can be to back pain. I have never engaged in therapy myself for emotional or mental problems although after watching The Sopranos, I can certainly see the benefits and I would like to try it. I have gone to a Chiropracter for back problems and he did help me enormously with my back.

Re: The Big "Fuck You" Scenes - Tony, Carmella and Fly

#6
Splishak wrote:
So, thank you for sharing your insights into married life with me. I really appreciate that and I hope you can believe me about my reaction to the TV show, because I am indeed telling you the truth.


I believed you when you said that you felt that way. What I am saying is that its not good to be so involved in a fictional event that you make yourself feel that way. I agree that the acting/directing in this series has been tremendous and unrivaled. Basically I am just saying that you should try not to become so immersed in the show that it terrifies you.

Having said that, in a way I wish that I could get so deeply involved with this show that I feel like I am actually in the room with them. This has been my favorite program on television since the beginning of the series and I anxiously look forward to each new episode. I can't say though that I have ever been as deeply affected by something that I saw on the screen as what you have described. The closest that I have ever come was when Tony pinched Christophers nostrils together suffocating him. I hated that scene because of Chrissy being my favorite character on the show. To some degree it also made me dislike Tony just a little bit, which I think was Chase's intention to do.

Splishak wrote: I'm afraid that I have to disagree with the proposition that therapy is Bulshit!! It seems to me that under the proper circumstances and with the right people, therapy can be just as healing to emotional and mental problems as Chiropractic treatment can be to back pain. I have never engaged in therapy myself for emotional or mental problems although after watching The Sopranos, I can certainly see the benefits and I would like to try it. I have gone to a Chiropracter for back problems and he did help me enormously with my back.


You cannot really compare chiropractic/physical treatment to mental/emotional therapy. Its apples to oranges. You can take your car to the mechanic and have it fixed when it breaks down, you cannot sit your car on a couch and talk to it when it breaks down and hope that it fixes itself. When you think about it what has Dr. Melfi actually done for Tony? She sits there and listens to him but she never really gives him any real advice on how to improve things. All she does is try to get him to realize things for himself. He made more progress in a weekend in Vegas with a college age stripper and some peyote than he has in 10 years under Melfi's care.

Re: The Big "Fuck You" Scenes - Tony, Carmella and Fly

#7
I feel we must have gotten off track somewhere. When you say that it it's not good for me to be terrified by a TV show, I certainly agree. But what I was trying to describe to you was much the same kind of sensation as someone going to a horror movie and being scared by a monster onscreen and screaming out loud. That person is not seriously terrified of the monster. They know the difference between a real monster and a movie monster. And so do I. And I'm sure that so do you.

In the same way, I am not actually terrified by Tony Soprano. But the quality of production of that scene was so excellent, that I could feel the physical sensations of the terror without actually being terrorized.

Re: The Big "Fuck You" Scenes - Tony, Carmella and Fly

#8
Splishak, I agree with pretty much everything you've said on this subject. When those fights happened, they seemed like cataclysmic events to me--far worse that when Tony & Carmela separated. I really didn't think that their relationship could survive. I even wondered if they would both survive literally. Yes, people in relationships (not just in romantic relationships but parents and children, etc.) do say horrific things to each other that they don't mean, or didn't mean to say out loud. But I thought those fights took it one step beyond. We've discussed Tony's lack of affect surrounding what he did to Christopher, but not a lot has been said about the shocking viciousness of these fights. Carmela in particular was absolutely savage. People have been pointing out the ways that Tony has begun to channel Livia, but what about the fact that, like so many men, he married his mother? Carmela may be more loving and caring than Livia, but her love is very conditional. She has made AJ feel unworthy at least as many times as Tony has. With Tony it's such a typical "guy" thing--you want your son to be built like an NFL linebacker and hung like a horse, and swagger around all the time to show everyone he knows it. When the kid goes through the normal stages of adolescence--insecurity, lack of identity and direction, being dumped--these are all proof your kid isn't measuring up in the manly department. God forbid anyone wonders what that says about your own masculinity.

Incidentally, has anyone here discussed how the casting of Robert Iler and the way he's grown up physically might have affected the development of that character? When he was young he looked like he might grow up to be a great hulking Tony type, but between the Atkins diet and his genes he's actually rather petite and almost a little feminine (I kind of like girly men so that's not an insult.). I know we're not supposed to criticize the actors physically, but I really do wonder if the character might have gone in different directions if he'd grown up to be a huge football player type, or is this the way Chase has planned it along?

Re: The Big "Fuck You" Scenes - Tony, Carmella and Fly

#9
......but what about the fact that, like so many men, he married his mother?


Wow! Absolutely breakthrough clarifying insight for me. It seems so obvious. Yet I had never considered that.

I will be re-examining all of the previous episodes I will view again with this point in mind to see if I can identify how this impacts things from now on.


Incidentally, has anyone here discussed how the casting of Robert Iler and the way he's grown up physically might have affected the development of that character? When he was young he looked like he might grow up to be a great hulking Tony type, but between the Atkins diet and his genes he's actually rather petite and almost a little feminine (I kind of like girly men so that's not an insult.). I know we're not supposed to criticize the actors physically, but I really do wonder if the character might have gone in different directions if he'd grown up to be a huge football player type, or is this the way Chase has planned it along?


I remember something almost exactly on point to this being discussed but I can't remember if it was just a post or two or a full discussion. Unfortunately, I can't remember where it was. If you want to find it, the odds would suggest you look through the big long posts that discuss each of the recent shows - starting with this season (6B) because that is where I have spent most of my time recently and probably noticed it there.

Otherwise, I hope someone will remember and point you to it. Because it would be difficult to find with the Search tools here. Although I would search for "robert iler" and if it allows you to look for a second string, I'd definitely pick a few to try. Not sure exactly which would be best though. I seem to recall there was some discussion in that post about Tony thinking that AJ would have gotten his physical appearance genes from Carmella's side of the family and maybe something about Carmella's father. So, I'd try a secondary string of "Carmella".

Oh, Wow! That seems to work OK. When I searched on:

"rober iler" Carmella

it listed this here thread among a few others. So you will probably be able to find it that way.

Darn! I looked through those threads and couldn't find it. But if you try some other combination of search strings, maybe you will find it that way.
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