Straying from Tradition

Italian values are heavily and strictly adhered to in traditional Italian families, especially in the Soprano family. Issues like gay marriage, interracial coupling, and loyalty are all put to the test when different members of both the Soprano family and inner-circle intrude on these limits for their own personal gain. Religious traditions and values are expected to be followed, but every episode during every single season of the show it seems that someone else is straying from the Roman Catholic values placed before them. Velazquez writes, “Religion in The Sopranos does not have the same meaning to men and women. To the men, religion is at sometimes a burden and at other times a disguise. Rarely do the men in these works see religion as important for their power, but rather use religion as a scapegoat for their action” (Velazquez, 1). This statement is confirmed to be true within each episode of the show, as the characters find it difficult to remain faithful to the traditions that are expected to be followed. This lack of conformity to the traditions is heavily seen with the men of the show, however, we do see some of the women stray from the path, too.

Tony Soprano: Although Tony Soprano lays the ground work for the facade of his family, he does not always demonstrate the core values he portrays. The view of the solidarity of his family does not excuse the rocky relationship he has with his mother, Livia. The two bicker and fight often. Livia is especially aggravated with the fact that Tony does not reach call her everyday, like traditional Italian sons do (Chase, Pilot). Eventually, Livia helps Tony’s uncle Junior conspire a murder plot against Tony. Tony’s constant affairs with other women also betrayed the values he set forth, as he went against his marriage. Tony also visits a therapist due to his constant panic attacks. This goes against his values of secrecy, as confiding in someone else about his problems is highly frowned upon. Once his associates find out, they secretly accuse and speculate that Tony will turn an informant, further betraying the values Tony highly believes in.

Tony and Carmela Soprano Projecting Family Solidarity

Carmela Soprano: Carmela Soprano was always acknowledged as the devoted mother and wife to her family. Aware of Tony’s infidelities, she always remained loyal and stuck by his side, regardless of the repercussions his secret life had on their family. However, when times started getting tough, Carmela felt that the only person she could reach out to was her priest, Phil Intintola. Intintola would make frequent visits to the Sopranos’ home and would spend individual time with Carmela, often (Chase, I Dream of Jeannie Cusamano). Presented with temptation, Carmela began having an emotional affair with the priest, going against her values of remaining faithful to her husband and family. Later on in the series, Carmela has similar feelings for an associate of Tony’s named Florio.

Meadow Soprano: Meadow was always rebellious as a teenager, as she was known for sneaking out of the house and hanging with a rougher group of friends. However, Meadow proved to have had grown out of her defiant behaviors through her academic successes in high school and being accepted to Columbia University as a pre-law major. In the eyes of her family, Meadow seemed as if she was doing great until she brought home an African American boyfriend. Traditionally, a Roman Catholic Italian American female is supposed to date a male of the same caliber (Pozzetta 7-9). When first meeting Noah, Tony asked him a number of questions to find out about Noah’s heritage, only to find out that Noah is half African American. After hearing that, Tony begins making fun of Noah, and uses racial slurs towards him (Chase, University). Meadow’s desire to be involved in an interracial relationship proves that she goes against her traditional Italian American values.

Joseph R. Gannascoli as Vito Spatafore

Vito Spatafore: Vito was a successful capo in Tony Soprano’s crew. He lived a great life: he had a beautiful wife and two wonderful children. It is not until one of Meadow’s boyfriends, Finn, discovers and reveals to members of Tony’s crew that he saw Vito performing homosexual behaviors that Vito’s secret identity is revealed (Chase, Unidentified Black Males). Vito’s betrayal of the traditional values that he is expected to follow lead to his execution by members of his crew.

Drea de Matteo as Adriana La Cerva

Adriana La Cerva: Engaged to be married to Christopher Moltisanti, Adriana is expected to act as a member of the Soprano family and portray the same values that the family exemplifies, especially loyalty. However, when forcefully approached by the federal government in hopes that Adriana would cooperate, Adriana hesitantly conformed to the government’s demands and became an informant. She betrayed the family and their honor, and is secretly executed by Silvio Dante (Chase, Long Term Parking).