Nick Gillespie on How James Gandolfini's Tony Soprano Changed America


James Gandolfini, the actor who played the lead character in the HBO series The Sopranos, is dead at the age of 51, of an apparent heart attack.

Nick Gillespie says that The Sopranos wasn't just one of the last great TV shows around which people rearranged their schedules, the show ushered in a bold new era in popular culture that features "not just morally ambiguous but morally contemptible protagonists." Where right-wing and left-wing critics champion didactic culture that teaches people how to be good people or citizens,

The Sopranos put the lie to all that by entertaining and challenging viewers not by forcing Tony Soprano to "grow" or by romanticizing and mythologizing him (as happens to Michael Corleone at the end of The Godfather) but by forcing us all to live for a while in a world without justice, pity, or even tidy endings. What took place on The Sopranos each week had no direct connection to our daily lives, but it enriched us by taking us to dark places that the best art illuminates.