GWS Twisdom: Joyce Carol Oates, the Sopranos Ending and Authorial Intent


Friends, David Chase’s HBO program The Sopranos is widely hailed as one of the shows that ushered in the latest “golden age” of television.  James Gandolfini portrayed Tony Soprano, a New Jersey man who spent his time caring for his family and his waste management business.  Oh yeah…he was also a big-time player in the Jersey mob.

The Sopranos ran from 1999 to  2007 and has influenced countless dramas that followed.  (Breaking Bad, in particular.)  The final episode was highly anticipated and Mr. Chase did his duty, giving the story an ending that viewers wouldn’t soon forget:

Many were confused by the abrupt cut to black.  Others figured there was a problem with their cable connection.  The reaction bummed me out a little; I loved that Mr. Chase ended the show on his own terms and that he made an artistic choice.

Didn’t Mr. Chase experience every writer’s dream?  Millions of people were hanging on his every word and have since spent the better part of a decade deciding what the piece means to them.  “Masterofsopranos” offered my favorite analysis.  Jamie Andrew produced a thoughtful explanation for Den of Geek!

Well, Mr. Chase offered some after-the-fact clarification with regard to Tony’s true fate.  I’ve linked an article, but you know what?  It doesn’t matter what Mr. Chase thinks.  He was kind enough to give us the work and it now belongs to each viewer.

Now, I know that Twitter isn’t really good for much.  It is, however, a means of communication and must have some intrinsic value.  For instance, the great Joyce Carol Oates offered some ideas regarding the Sopranos finale that we should bear in mind:

Ms. Oates retweeted this nugget of timeless wisdom:

Writing is a double-edged sword.  Writers get the pleasure of sharing creations with readers…then the writer must accept that each reader invariably makes that creation their own.  We thank Mr. Chase for giving us Tony and Paulie and Christopher and Carmela and Adriana (RIP), but his act of giving also means that they now belong to us.

Did Tony get shot?  Your theory is worth just as much as the impulse that guided Mr. Chase during his long hours at the keyboard.




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