Life lessons from Tony Soprano & David Chase

October 31, 2006

David Chase made a rare public appearance last night at a public interview at the Centre for Communication in New York. Before a packed house (at which yours truly had a front row seat) he talked about the evolution of The Sopranos, how similar Olivia is to his own mother and how that relationship sent him into psychotherapy. I was able to share with him my view that the therapy scenes in The Sopranos are the most accurate description of “real” therapy I’ve seen on the screen to date.
Chase seemed genuinely surprised at how popular the series is outside of America after people from (Ireland), Italy, Israel, Cuba and further afield shared their enthusiasm for the show. After much discussion about it being quintessentially an “American” tale it struck me that it’s a very small family story and ultimately it doesn’t matter what kind of control we have in our external lives – it’s generally the internal stories that perplex us. Tony is a smart guy and applies the learning he gains in therapy about his family of origin to his business family.
Not all of us have a sabotaging mother like Olivia, but we’ve all got a family story that we bring with us into the work place. Some of us join the dots and make the connections between our family of origin and how our experience therein influences how we are at work – others don’t and relive many of the episodes from the past in the present. We mightn’t like Tony’s lifestyle but in my mind there’s no doubt that the success of the show internationally (apart from the stupenduous writing) is that he’s everyman – neither all good nor all bad; generally in control in his external working life and somewhat at sea in his internal and emotional life. I, for one, am eagerly anticipating the final 9 episodes due to broadcast in March.
Photo credit: Centre for Communication