Coffee Rhetoric: That's Art

June 12, 2007

That's Art

I'm an avid Sopranos fan. I've followed the series from day one, and have been watching the last 2 or 3 seasons on DVD because I got rid of my digital cable some time ago. I've always maintained that the series's creator, David Chase is an excellent writer. I've never watched a story about a group of wise guys unfold quite this way. The characters are complex and multilayered. The series is almost operatic. Tony Soprano... a dark character... husband, father, mafia chief, sociopath. One of the most compelling characters to cross television screens in a looong time. Perhaps this is why fans were livid, when the series ended the way it did. David Chase had people on the edge of their seats with the finale, only to end it abruptly, without the bang (or carnage) fans were hoping for. He left it open ended... Tony and his immediate family (wife Carmela and son A.J.) at a diner, sharing a basket of onion rings to the tune of Journey's Don't Stop Believing, only to have tv screens all across America suddenly go black after daughter Meadow opens the door to the diner, causing people to think their Tivos or cable had blinked out suddenly. But no. This is the way the series ended. The show that blew popular culture away with its irresistible cast of characters. The fact that David Chase wrote the last episode the way he did, staying true to his artistic integrity rather than placate fans, and then going on vacation to France, but not before telling HBO brass to basically suck it, because he refuses to field questions from press regarding his conclusion or explain why he opted to end the Sopranos this way, is undoubtedly the mark of a great writer and artist. The fact that we are still bemused and discussing it illustrates that the man truly knows what he's doing, and may, quite possibly, have something more up his sleeve. We live in a culture where trends spawn mediocrity. Music, movies, sitcoms, and network series follow the same formulaic recipe and just aren't that interesting or newsworthy. I commend David Chase for following the recipe that best suits art and creativity. From a writer's perspective, I think his ending was nothing short of avante-garde.
** Read today's NYTimes article for more on The Sopranos