Growing up, everyone thought my dad was the BEST. It was the 80’s and all my friends compared him to everyone’s favorite TV dad, Bill Cosby. Even I thought he was very much like that…in public. He was funny, smart, charming, fun, handsome.
In private, my dad was much more like Tony Soprano. In fact, the Sopranos is one of the best overall descriptions of my family life growing up. Not from a mafia perspective, but based on the personalities — or rather the personality disorders — of the characters.
One of the most familiar and recognizable characters to me, is Livia Soprano, Tony’s mother, who is described as having either Borderline or Narcissistic Personality Disorder — or maybe even a mix of the two. This scene below is an apt description of what life with my mother was like. Word for word, down to the, “I gave my life to my children on a silver platter.” In fact, I relate a lot to the scenes of Tony’s childhood growing up with a narcissistic mother and ASPD father.
After watching the Sopranos, it was clear to me somebody in the writer’s room had some personal experience. It was all just too spot on. Turns out I was right. David Chase, who produced and wrote The Sopranos, says Livia’s character is based on his own mother.
“Chase claims his father was an angry man who belittled him constantly as a child and his mother was a ‘passive-aggressive drama queen’ and a ‘nervous woman who dominated any situation she was in by being so needy and always on the verge of hysteria. You walked on eggshells.’ One of his characters on the HBO original series The Sopranos, Livia Soprano, is based on his mother. Chase struggled with panic attacks and severe depression as a teenager, something he still deals with today.”
I haven’t watched the Sopranos in years, but it may be time to watch again, this time with a fresh, better informed perspective. I only wish they went a little more into detail on Tony’s relationship with his kids and how his sociopathy affected them. In many ways, it’s overlooked in the show, although we do see some splitting between his son AJ (who does demonstrate some behavioral problems as a child) and his golden child daughter, Meadow.