Sopranos Simply Pretentious?

#1
After watching the whole series and rewatching many episodes, I think (granted without seeing the entire series again) that it is simply pretentious. I mean, how much symbolism and representation can you pack into a show? Trains, planes, every animal under the sun, water in all its forms, the seasons, homosexuality, every religion there is, time pieces, mirrors, smoke, fire...on and on it goes. It strikes me as pretentiousness. I can't tell where the implications end and a simple show begins. And I can't make head nor tails of what it all means and I wonder who does. Whenever I am left feeling like there is no way to understand something it then becomes a time wasting activity.

Re: Sopranos Simply Pretentious?

#2
Hi Observor and welcome to the site.
Tho I've noticed a recent flurry of new members here, activity and discussion has been understandably sparse, but I'm thinking your post may ignite one of the occassional spurts, as it could stir controversy and disagreement from many of the frequent contributors - which isn't a bad thing at all.

My first reaction is that I wouldn't say the show was " simply" pretentious but I agree that it does, at times, seem overpacked with Some elements that seem forced, overstuffed, too "cute", obscure or unsubstantiated and unnecessary, which may convey an air of pretension, along with much solid, quality and brilliant content.

Re: Sopranos Simply Pretentious?

#3
Hi, observor, and I echo Billyv's welcome.

I haven't real time to post these days. But I can safely say I vigorously disagree with you.:-) The show is packed, yes, but also extremely down to earth in many ways. There are so many levels to it that it was able to appeal to a broad demographic of people, including those who had almost no taste or feel for the symbolism whatsoever.

The "high brow" elements never struck me as contrived but completely the result of organically unfolding creativity, very fertile minds given the freedom to express with as much depth as they liked, often without over intellectualizing things, just trusting in the power of the unconscious, both their own and that of the audience. Chase gave a good example of this when he spoke of deciding to make Tony have a duck fixation after visiting with a colleague and noticing ducks in her pool around the time he was writing the pilot. He didn't analyze or "left brain" out why Tony would be obsessed with ducks. He just knew it resonated witj his creative instinct, and he went with it. Only later did he have to "psychoanalyze" himself to figure out what the ducks meant.

That's a small example, but that kind of thing seems to permeate the show. And the viewer is free to make as much, or as little, of it as he/she likes.
Tony, his spirits crushed after b-lining to the fridge first thing in the morning: "Who ate the last piece of cake?"

Re: Sopranos Simply Pretentious?

#4
FlyOnMelfisWall wrote:H
And the viewer is free to make as much, or as little, of it as he/she likes.


My problem is I am not sure what is symbolism and what is not..I see things and wonder if there is a deeper meaning, or wonder if I am starting to read too much.

I know I would feel differently if I had the chance to watch the entire series again. I'm sure I would come to gather new information. But that is a lot of time spending watching something that I may or may not come to understand. It is so complex and it is so hard to keep track of situations, I do not have the inclination to do it, for now.

There's a million things to it, and you think you will never really know what it means.

Did anyone figure out the significance of the statue in Melfi's office?

Re: Sopranos Simply Pretentious?

#5
Chase did not want to spoonfeed the audience with everything he was trying to convey, and as in Fly's example, creative minds aren't always consciously in touch with a full understanding of every element they put into their works, it's inspiration that flows during the process.
There's much on this site and other places that if you were to read could help you understand more but a full understanding can't be summed up in brief explanations to The Sopranos or to mysteries of the Universe.
The lack of easy, straightforward explanations does not equal pretension.
You may want to try the search function on this site, try a few keywords, to explore previous posts and discussions that may give you better understanding of particular aspects or at least opinions and interpretations worth considering. As for the statue(s) in Melfi's office, I know there've been posts and threads and conjecture on that subject, tho it's nothing I can address.
Enjoy what you can out of it. But if one doesn't want to put in time and effort, a satisfactory comprehension of a complex work isn't likely to be achieved.
The show appealed to many and on different levels, but it doesn't have to be - and likely wasn't intended to be - regarded as "great" by everyone.

Re: Sopranos Simply Pretentious?

#6
I think art should be about something, not perhaps pretending to be about something. Throwing a billion ideas out there and letting the viewer make of it what they will seems to me not an accomplishment per se. I think there should be some kind of revelation, or insight, and, so far, that has not been clear to me. But I definitely have not come to a conclusion until I have seen the whole thing again.

Re: Sopranos Simply Pretentious?

#7
observor wrote:I think art should be about something, not perhaps pretending to be about something. Throwing a billion ideas out there and letting the viewer make of it what they will seems to me not an accomplishment per se. I think there should be some kind of revelation, or insight, and, so far, that has not been clear to me. But I definitely have not come to a conclusion until I have seen the whole thing again.


Well, The Sopranos is definitely about something. (Are you confusing it with Seinfeld?) ;). In fact, it's definitely about a Lot of things, some of which are more apparent, others more obscure. Do you actually believe the millions - including many who have written extensive, well articulated interpretations filled with specific examples and solid argument to support theories and conjecture - who think it is about something are wrong, deceived, or just following the crowd or suggestion and pretending this art means something to them?

Re: Sopranos Simply Pretentious?

#10
observor wrote:Yes, i see there are a lot of books on the show.


There are also a lot of great posts on this site written several years ago during the shows run and shortly afterwards which offer insight, interpretation and supported opinion. The site creator and administrator - Fly on Melfi's Wall - and several others have contributed poignant writing that could help you understand and connect some of the elements you currently see as random and disconnected. I came to this site late, years after the show had ended and activity here had peaked. Reading a lot of the content here and on another online site created by one who identifies him(her)self as "master-of-sopranos" entitled the "Definitive explanation of the Sopranos Finale" - some of which I agree with, some of which I don't entirely agree or disagree with, some of which I'd similarly previously considered at least in part -helped me understand aspects of the work a lot better. If you read and consider some of it before, after and/or while you rewatch the series, I'm fairly certain it would help you see at least in part what was being attempted.
I know Fly is very busy away from here and others who are well-informed no longer stop by often but perhaps at some point some of them could direct you to particular threads or suggest you read posts by specific members.
Meanwhile I'd say browse and sample various thread titles, try the search function located along the top of the main page. It seems you'd like to understand better what all the fuss is/was about. Sorry I can't presently be more helpful. Too bad there's not a "best of" list of posts. Capos?
But it is a rather complex work and usually can only be grasped a bit at a time with reading, re watching, reflection and consideration. Without effort, just enjoy the humor and the whackings I suppose.
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