Who Likes Unlikable Characters?

TheSopranos

My husband and I just finished watching the entire Sopranos series. I’m probably one of the last people on Earth to see The Sopranos, I know, but after James Gandolfini passed away, I wanted to see the show that made him a star. I wanted to see his legacy. So about a year ago, hubby-pants and I fired up HBO Go and went to town. Now, he had seen most of the series (he stopped watching for whatever reason around the fourth season), and then tuned in for the finale. As you may have figured out, I was a Sopranos virgin.

Fast forward to a few days ago when the screen went black at the end of that infamous series finale, and I had a few things to say…

First of all, I didn’t see what all the fuss was about. Hubby-pants tried to explain the groundbreaking nature of the show: mafia-centric, from the perspective of the criminals, big-picture that includes home and family life, etc. I’ve decided to give him this defense, especially since I’ve strived to be equally as groundbreaking with my own Blood for Blood Series (partially told from the perspective of a female serial killer while exploring her psyche). However, I do have to take issue with the number of unlikable, can’t-standable characters constantly on-screen during The Sopranos.

Tony Soprano is a pig. His infidelity is repulsive. The way he speaks to his wife, his kids, his family, and his friends is disgusting. Eww.

Carmela Soprano should be a sympathetic character because Tony cheats on her and treats her like shit, but she’s not. Why? Because all Tony has to do is buy her a fur coat, a new car, or a shiny bauble and she turns a blind eye to the mistresses, the abuse, and the overall inexcusable behavior of her husband.

Meadow and A.J. Soprano are so fake. They both straddle the line between being spoiled mob prince/princess and pretending to care about the problems and injustices of the world. Both can be silenced with the perks of being a Soprano, same as their mother.

Everybody else? Sucked. Paulie, Chris, Adriana, Janice, Junior, Livia. I could go on and on. They were all horrible people. No one had actual friends. I mean, actual, REAL friendships. Going “way back”, smiling in each other’s faces, and telling old stories while inwardly wishing each other dead or wondering if the others wish you dead is NOT a relationship.

And don’t even get me started on Tony’s shrink, Dr. Melfi, and her merry little circle of friends/fellow psychiatrists. Good grief.

But…

My darling husband brought up a good point: if the characters conjure up such hatred, but viewers continue to tune in, hat’s off to the writers, right? I fell quiet when he said this. Why? Because I can’t count how many times I’ve said this in book reviews. If I hate a character it’s most likely because the writer did their job and portrayed the individual in such a light on purpose.

As a matter of fact, when I submitted the first draft of Blood in the Past to an editor, they returned the manuscript, complaining that Jillian Atford’s character was too unlikable because of her affair with a married cop. I refused to change the character because her actions were integral to the overall story, but I added things to make her tolerable. Her foster home childhood, for example, allows readers to see that Jillian never had anything of her own, that things were always taken from her, and that she felt she deserved to be happy, regardless of the situation.

In a lot of ways, I think the writers of The Sopranos did the same with their characters. Tony Soprano was very protective of his family. Janice wouldn’t stand for a man who physically abused her. Uncle Junior slowly succumbed to Alzheimer’s. Again, I can go on and on.

In the end, I stand by my internal 3-star rating of The Sopranos for other reasons, but maybe I should lay off them for being so unlikable. Thoughts?

 

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Jerks & Irks L (50): A Day at the Beach?

Faithful blog followers may have noticed an absence last week. Probably not though. I don’t adhere to a rigid schedule. I don’t force a blog post if there isn’t anything pressing to write about, especially when I’m in the throes of being up against a deadline.

But last week, Hubby-pants and I headed to his family’s shore house for a couple of days, one last time before his family sells it (for reasons I won’t get into). The place is obviously special to him, but it also holds its own place in my heart. You see, when Hubby-pants and I were first dating, he brought me there and we stayed the weekend alone. It was the fist time I had stayed anywhere vacation-ish with a boyfriend before and I was pleasantly surprised to find that he didn’t get on my nerves. That, my friends, is the true meaning of love.

IMG_0354Beach Bums, 2010.

Last week’s stay was mostly a relaxing couple of a days, even the humid day where we sat inside and watched reruns of The Sopranos on HBO-Go all day. The second day, the day after our Sopranos marathon, we decided to actually head to the beach. The previous day, as I mentioned, was humid. But the second day was pleasant. Perfect beach weather. We had breakfast at the table like we’ve always done. I stuffed myself into a bathing suit like I’ve always done. We sprayed each other with sunscreen on the porch, the cool aerosol tickling our skin like it’s always done. We walked up to the beach, set up our stuff, sat in our chairs, and inhaled that sweet salty air.

Then I screamed in pain as a fly bit my ankle.

I looked down and several flies were feasting on my feet and shins. Hubby-pants shooed them away and we both realized at the same time that the wind was coming off the land. At the Jersey shore, a land breeze means one thing: greenheads, biting flies. They have serious choppers. I don’t know the exact PSI of their jaws, but I’m pretty sure they’re the pit bulls of the fly world. They bite you, latch on, and hold on as you swing your limb wildly and desperately from side to side, looking like a crazy person to those who can’t see the tiny pit bull of an insect clamped onto your flesh. And sometimes it feels like they even have a supplementary set of a jaws, like something out of the movie Alien, that bites you a second freaking time. Ouchieee!!!

We were going home later that night and this was our final trip to the shore house. We had to salvage this trip to the beach. So, we had only one choice: We abandoned our tent and chairs and drove to the drugstore for some bug spray and one of those little clip-on fan deals that supposedly disperses bug repellent. When we returned ten minutes later, freshly sprayed, clip in place, chests puffed, full of bravado…the wind had changed to an ocean breeze. All of that and the biting flies were gone. Son of a beach…

IMG_0373

Hubby-pants woke me for my first ever sunrise. 2010.

But I like to think that the universe didn’t want us to have just another day at the beach. It gave us a day to remember. It gave us a story. Albeit an annoying story, because the universe can be a real jerk sometimes, but still. I’ll never forget the years Hubby-pants and I got to spend there, and if you guys could buy more of my books and make me famous, maybe I could buy us our own shore house? No? It was worth a shot. 🙂