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The Contemporary Television Series$
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Michael Hammond and Lucy Mazdon

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780748619009

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748619009.001.0001

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Violence and Therapy in The Sopranos

Violence and Therapy in The Sopranos

(p.139) Chapter 8 Violence and Therapy in The Sopranos
The Contemporary Television Series

Jason Jacobs

Edinburgh University Press

During its five seasons, the television series The Sopranos, which premiered in 1999 on HBO, has offered an emphatically realist account of organised crime in a fictional New Jersey mob family. Its central character, Tony Soprano, is a successful mob boss with a problem — his panic attacks and general depression require him to visit a therapist. Acts of brutal violence are therefore contrasted with moments of reflection and introspection. As several commentators have pointed out, the concentration on those characters associated with, but not active within, the mob, is part of the show's innovation in combining the melodrama of the domestic with the traditions of the gangster genre. As the seasons progress, there is a particular aspect that rises to increasing prominence. This is the issue of impulsivity. Tony Soprano's panic attacks force him to attend therapy whether he likes it or not because his existence as a capable leader appears under threat. In having one of the characters as a therapist The Sopranos was able to explore issues of personal responsibility, impulse control and criminality.

Keywords:   The Sopranos, television series, organised crime, mob, panic attacks, violence, therapy, impulsivity, criminality, personal responsibility

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