The series ending of The Sopranos
Posted to http://coleslawblog.blogspot.com/2007/06/seven-reasons-why-theories-that-tony.html today.
My wife and I just finished the series on Netflix last night. This thread is one of the most thoughtful and intelligent series of posts.
I'm ambivalent about what happened, but I'm pretty sure that's the intended ending. Like a great painting, no one can say what it finally means. ("Starry Night" is about insanity in the country--would be an example of how some art defies final interpretations.)
My own intuition (and that's all it is) is that the tension and apprehension that comes with being a Soprano is the lot of this family. Tony will always be watching the door, the stranger, etc. Carmela will always be spouting homilies out of denial. In this regard, I suppose I read the show as CrimeNotes does. As an anti-genre series that wants to use the mafia to bring out the ennui and anxiety of trying to make it in America.
I'll add one final thought for a pet theory which I was convinced of just as the show ended. The FBI Arrest Theory. Here goes: the show is realist. It mirrors real world events. In the real world, the mob in the NYC and NJ area was largely fractured and then disassembled by the FBI. Times are changing--the lawyer says something to Tony about "this day coming" and Meadow's boyfriends revelation that one can make 170k/year doing criminal work just shows that the culture is now rewarding attorneys more than mobsters. White collar crime is the big fish, now--and Tony, Junior, etc. are all becoming dinosaurs before the viewers eyes. The end of a family, so to speak, mostly caused by the history rather than gunfire.
Again, my central point is not to take a firm stand on the ending, but to argue that the ambiguity of the ending is endemic to all great works of art. Thus, there must be a multiplicity of possibilities, always possible for the different ways different people would construe the various pieces of evidence on which they need/choose to focus. This is the arc and message (if you can call it that) of the entire series. Day to day life. That's the end.