Friday, October 20th 2017

Why The Sopranos was the most spiritual show on TV

Drawing on ideas and idioms from mysticism and transpersonal psychology, HBO’s The Sopranos was the most Soul’s Code show on television — until LOST took over

BY PAUL KAIHLA — “Read for the rapture” was a signature phrase in the penultimate episode of The Sopranos, which aired during the second week of June, 2007. We’ve come to love and learn those epiphanic flourishes of dialogue — and this one came from an FBI agent, of all characters.

Could we agree that the greatest series, ever, in television history is The Sopranos? Or could we at least agree that it ranks as the most spiritual show on TV? Here’s why:

1. You’ve heard homeless people ranting on the street. Step a bit outside of your own head, and realize that they’re simply voicing aloud the kind of thought-strings that race through most of our minds every minute. Since the homeless have little left to lose, they are less defended — and to put a generous spin on it, feel liberated to share their ‘inner voice’. The Reflections promo for the homestretch of The Sopranos channels that dynamic through Tony — overlapping, Altman-esque tracks of internal dialogue looping through the mob boss’s head. Ramana Maharshi himself couldn’t have showcased the mental noise of a neurotic mind more poignantly.

2. That same clip recites a line from psychiatrist, Jennifer Melfi, who tells Tony that his “depression is rage turned inward.” A seeming throw-away line that expresses a deeper insight. Classic Jung: the loss of Self from a childhood of neglect and emotional blackmail leads to misery, and leaves the victim — in this case, Tony — in a state of self-blame and craving, believing they’re inherently undeserving of anything good.

3. With no explanation whatsoever of its origin, or narrative purpose, this startling Ojibway proverb is recycled through Season 6 on the wall of Tony’s hospital room while he lies in a coma after being shot: Sometimes I go about in pity for myself and all the while a great wind carries me across the sky.

4. Junior Soprano, aging mob boss resigns to the onset of dementia: “Believe me, there’s a lot of things I’d rather forget.” (Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Love in the Time of Cholera: “Jeremiah de Saint-Amour . . . had escaped the torments of memory.” Medieval mystical classic, The Cloud of Unknowing: “Whenever the Memory is occupied with any bodily thing, be it taken to never so good an end, thou art beneath thyself in this working and without any soul.”)

5. Ben Kingsely played Gandhi, in the movie called Gandhi. Ben Kingsley does a cameo in the last full season of The Sopranos, ever. Coincidence?

6. During a violent row, Tony threatens to kill his mistress, Gloria, who is played by Annabella Sciorra. In this Season 3 epiphany, Tony realizes his histrionic lover is just like his mother: “Stay the fuck away from me. I didn’t just meet you — I’ve known you all my life.”

A staple of object-relations depth psychology: “The tendency ‘to get into repetitive patterns of relationships’ is based more than anything else upon our need to remain in a relational world with which we are familiar.”

7. Tony’s nephew, Christopher Moltisanti, tells an addicted screenwriter he’s shaking down for a gambling debt: “There’s no chemical solution for a spiritual problem.” – In Camelot, episode 59, Season

8. The Season Six premiere opened with a surrealist montage narrated by beat poet William S. Burroughs, who riffs on the seven stages of soul in ancient Egyptian mythology: “Top soul, and the first to leave at the moment of death, is Ren, the Secret Name. This corresponds to my Director. He directs the film of your life from conception to death.”

We at Soul’s Code are sympatico with all spiritual hierarchies.

9. The very last line of internal dialogue in Tony’s head in the Reflections trailer for the final 9 episodes is his wife’s voice saying, Everything comes to an end. Same with The Sopranos itself.

As buddhist teacher David Richo says, this is one of the five facts of life we must learn to live with:

Everything changes and ends,
Things do not always go according to plan,
Life is not always fair,
Pain is part of life,
People are not loving and loyal all the time.

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3 Comments on “Why The Sopranos was the most spiritual show on TV”

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