Sopranos, if you knew them?

We watch the Sopranos, as the main characters we identify with them, we like them.

We’re watching fiction after all, we’re never going to meet them.

We see things that are like ourselves,the “Kids growing up thing”,the difficulties in marriage, the trials of friendship and so on.

All of the movies make,for example bank robbery, murder etc. seem glamarous, heroic even, definitely sexy.

And so we see it in the Sopranos.

A lot of the time you see them being bloody good blokes, but then they do something that is totally off the wall to people that they know.

How would you feel if you met them in real life ?

HAVE you met them in real life ?

Most of the characters could be endearing or funny, but if you met anyone from Tony’s crew in real life in anything but a superficial social context, it means they’re probably trying to shake you down or intimidate you or rob you. Think of what happened to characters who got involved with them like Davey Scatino or Jason Barone, or even a close friend like Artie Bucco. They all got hurt or screwed, and other people got killed by them at random. You wouldn’t have been happy to see them if they were there on business. Even on a personal level most of them were assholes on a regular basis to anybody who wasn’t in the crew. Ralphie was a violent psychotic, Paulie was pretty close to devoid of any human feeling except insecurity, Chris was a drunk and a drug addict. And that’s assuming you don’t know who they are. If you knew Tony was a mob boss you’d stay the hell away.

Frankly, I didn’t like any of the characters – but I liked the show. Most of them were completely broken sociopaths with only very occasional glimmers of humanness shining through.

If I met any of them in real life, I’d walk the other way. You are nothing but a dollar sign to Tony and his crew. They squeeze what they can out of you, spit on your face, and move on.

Just as an example, remember the character Robert Patrick (of Terminator 2 fame) played in the first season? Davey Scatino. He was a childhood friend of Tony’s and after sitting in on a poker game Tony took his sporting goods store, his car (which Tony gave to Meadow), and I believe the stolen airline ticket that Tony gave to his mom. Tony just destroyed his life without even thinking about it and promptly forgot all about it.

ETA: I didn’t even notice that Marley already mentioned Davey Scatino, probably because I didn’t know his name until I looked Robert Patrick up on IMdB.

I don’t recall anyone who didn’t get involved with Tony’s business getting screwed too much.

I’ve had casual acquaintances with drug dealers before, and the key is to survival is to keep them casual. In my case it was because they were in my high school class, or they were customers in the liquor store I worked in. As long as I didn’t buy any drugs from them I stayed safe.

I imagine you could pull the same thing off with Tony, but I wouldn’t want to try.

A lot of criminals have a split personality when it comes to their business and personal life. They’re on their proper behavior socially, but if you cross them, then their business side comes out. They aren’t the type of people who do sadistic things for pleasure, they only do them out of a need for protection.

FWIW, Tony without the mafia would be a mirror image of my father. My dad is Russian and is pretty old school - materialistic, values family, likes war history, takes pride in his heritage, and likes to socialize with friends at Russian restaurants.

They both share an eerie eastern European vibe, except that my dad is the nicest person you’ll ever meet.

I actually have met quite a few of them IRL, but the details are somewhat fuzzy to me since it’s never explained to me very well. I usually hear tidbits later on. Things like my dad telling me “You know our friend Brian, he had to disappear to Florida for a few years in the 90’s because he owned John 15 grand” Based on other tidbits I’d heard over the years, that’s all I needed to know. (John was involved in the mafia).
Back in the late 70’s my dad was being followed by the FBI and wound up standing before a grand jury on some sort of mafia case…again, I’ve never been clear on all the details, but I know throughout the years I’ve met quite a few of the “Soprano’s”…actually, since I’m in Milwaukee, I think I’ve met people more closely related to Goodfellas.
In fact, I know there’s still some mafia connected people running around in Milwaukee. Not that there’s any kind of real mafia presence in Milwaukee that I know of, but there’s still a few of them floating around. The one’s I know of are still running the same hotel they were running in the 60’s and are still just as difficult to deal with as they were back then.

To go in a different direction, a non ‘Soprano’ friend of mine goes golfing with Bobby Bacala when he goes out to Vegas.

ETA reading what Lakai just said reminded me of something. WRT to the hotel I mentioned up thread. In the hotel is a restaurant. When the owners of the hotel (the Balistreri’s) opened a new restaurant (in the hotel) they asked my dad to bring in the produce for it. Remembering his prior experience dealing with them, he turned them down. The first time he wound up in court (as I mentioned about) over some price fixing/mafia mess. The second time they just plain refused to pay, but since they have an odd way of operating we never collected (they let someone else “own” the restaurant, but they still run it). This time he just turned them down so we wouldn’t have to get involved with it.

Says you. Wait until he finds out what happened to your cousin in the Pine Barrens.


She an I’d get on just fine. Even though her fictional ancestry is southern. Hells Bells, my name’s as near to Soprano as you get IRL. Kinda Sorta.

Davey’s the exact character I came in here to mention.

Davey: “You told me not to get in the game. Why’d you let me do it?”
Tony: “Well, I knew you had this business here, Davey. It’s my nature. The frog and the scorpion, you know? Besides, if you would’ve won I’d be the one crying the blues, right?”
Davey: “What’s the end?”
Tony: “The end… It’s planned bankruptcy.”
Davey starts crying.
Tony: “Hey, you’re not the first guy to get busted out. This is how a guy like me makes his living. This is my bread and butter.”

While I found Tony and the rest of the crew endearing in the show, they’re predators. If I noticed them in real life I’d keep my head down and pray they hadn’t noticed me.

Yeah, I think the genius of David Chase is demonstrating the duality of these predatory sociopaths. Nobody is “nice” in this business; they are governed by fear and violence. As soon as they smell blood in the water friendships mean nothing.

We identify with Tony going on a college visit with Meadow, but then he kills a guy that night.

In reality I think that the crew are racist, sexist, bigoted - so unless you come from their life experience they already don’t respect you. As a Black guy I figure they are calling me every name under the sun. Like others have said I would give them a wide, wide berth in reality.

I have known, and still know, people like them. I keep them at arm’s length and make sure to never owe them even the smallest of favors. They aren’t people to be trusted under any circumstances.

Favorite episode. :cool:

Nitpick: He did try giving car to Meadow, but as soon as she realized whose it was (I believe it had actually belonged to Davey’s son) she recoiled in disgust and turned it down. Don’t know what happened to it after that.

Fun show to watch, but would not like to have met any of them in real life.
None of them had an iota of “class”, and they were all pretty much involved in raking in coin to pay for their lavish, garish lifestyle.
They all seemed to be bipolar psychopaths - so even an act of kindness one day could lead to violent wrath the next for no particular reason.

One thing that struck me as odd during the show, and even after the show, was how much the actors started to actually think they were real gumbas. In interviews, they had that same arrogance as if they could have you rubbed out if they made a call to a guy who knows a guy…then again, maybe they could. Who knows who they rubbed elbows with during the filming of that show?

I’ve always been kind of curious about this. Has David Chase or anyone else who worked on the show ever talked much about what type of “consultants” they employed?

Read the bios of some of the actors (especially Tony Sirico, a.k.a Paulie) and you’ll know why.

A couple of nights ago I was in the lounge of a fraternal organization to which I belong and overheard an interesting conversation.

The fiancee of one of our bartenders is an aspiring professional billiards player, and he’s trying to raise money to enter some tournament. He was talking to some other folks who were there as guests, I think they might have been part of a visiting dart team.

Anyways, one of these people starts talking to the pool player about how he’s got friends in his hometown of Revere, MA (my hometown too) who can provide the funds he needs to enter the tournament. I overheard the conversation and knew exactly where he was coming from. He wasn’t being particularly coy, although he was dropping hints about the his friends at the Italian-American Club et cetera, but I’m not certain that the pool player was getting the drift.

I took the bartender aside when we went out for a smoke and told her what was up, and she hopefully got the point across to her fiancee. Getting into a shy, especially for money that you’re gambling away? Jesus… I’ve got friends from Revere who got in serious trouble with loansharks, it’s a terrible situation to be in. Never, ever owe anything to a wiseguy, not even a favor.

Revere, the city I grew up in, was Boston’s version of Cicero, IL - the political apparatus had been pretty much taken over and carved up by the Mob, and the people of the city mostly knew what was up. The corruption, kickbacks, bribery, etc were rampant. There were all these private clubs that served as clubhouses for the various mobbed-up factions in the city, usually based on the Italian region of origin. On top of that, you also had Jewish mobsters doing their thing as well.

Eventually though, Irish mobsters Whitey Bulger and Steve Flemmi cut the balls off the Italian Mob in Boston - with John Connolly’s Boston FBI office and the US Attorney as their waterboys. I’m surprised David Chase never explored that narrative in The Sopranos; having crooked law enforcement carrying out the vendettas of an opposing mob.

My Mom and Uncle grew up in the same neighborhood in Brooklyn as Tony Sirico. Tony’s younger brother was one my Uncle’s best friends starting from when they were all kids. Uncle was a very minor player back in the day and I’ve heard a few first hand stories about the neighborhood gang that I’m not going to repeat on a public forum.

I said in another thread that Bobby is probably the most decent character on the show, although Tony ends up wrecking him as well. Still, out of all the guys, he’s the one you wouldn’t mind having as a neighbor.

One interesting facet of Tony’s character I don’t see much discussion about is his genuine love of animals. You see it in the very first episode (the ducks) and the very last (the cat), and several times in between (Pie-Oh-My). During Christopher’s intervention, Tony doesn’t seem too involved, but becomes enraged when he learns that Christopher accidentally killed Adiranna’s dog while high. That compassion isn’t a trait you’d associate with a character like Tony.

Well, I have it on good authority that the guy who played Silvio is VERY well-connected with at least one important Boss.

Maybe not the kind you’re thinking of, but still.

Growing up in an Italian family in NY, I do know them. The writers did a great job at nailing the culture, the accents and the dynamics of one or two generation off the boat Italian Americans. Take out the killing (or most of it) and you would meet them all at the annual family picnic at Eisenhower Park in the 70s.