The Sopranos Is the Perfect Show to Help Us Understand the Trump Era
Tony Soprano is a bully with a deep distrust of the FBI — just like our current president
He’s a swaggering, narcissistic bully whose waistline balloons as the pressure builds. He’s racist, sexist, and chauvinist — but saves his harshest words for the FBI. He inherits his father’s sketchy business, but almost loses everything when his witless cronies bungle a clandestine meeting with the Russians.
I’m talking, of course, about Tony Soprano, the boss of North Jersey. And I am also talking, of course, about Donald Trump, the 45th president of the United States. Twenty years after a mob boss walked into a psychiatrist’s office to launch a series, and four years after a mogul rode down an escalator to launch a campaign, the resemblance is uncanny.
Despite living in a golden age of television, I rewatch The Sopranos like clockwork every year. Partly it’s because it’s one of those rare shows that always offers something new on repeated viewing. Mostly it’s compulsive. Birds fly south. I hit play on the pilot. Which, until fairly recently, is not the kind of thing I would have mentioned to a casual acquaintance, let alone the entire internet. It hardly suggests time well spent.
Then Trump came along. The leads of David Chase’s drama and our national one aren’t identical (Trump would never see a therapist; Tony’s casinos never lost money). But The Sopranos, improbably, might just be the most relevant show of 2019. Plenty of fantastic shows have grappled with our current political moment, from The Handmaid’s Tale and Jane the Virgin to The Colbert Report and Jimmy Kimmel Live! But if you want to understand Donald Trump, and the political moment that spawned him, there’s no substitute for The Sopranos, a series that premiered before today’s youngest voters were even born.
The Sopranos helps explain how people — even otherwise decent people — could fall for Trump’s larger-than-life persona.
More than anything else, The Sopranos captures the blend of power, insecurity, and resentment that lies at the core of Trumpism. There’s Tony, with his pool and…