A Right Turn? The Sopranos Redux

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The
Sopranos is
getting better and better. If Episode
32 highlighted the series' aggressive core
, Episode 33 goes
further in featuring a character with a full-blown conscience.

By
the time Carmela Soprano sees a psychiatrist in Episode 33, her
husband Tony has committed battery, assault, and taken a baseball
bat to someone's car – standard thuggery for the series' antihero.
Dr. Krakower is no placative shrink, however, and lays the smack
down (to borrow The Rock's phrase) on the mobster's old lady:

CARMELA:
He's a good man, he's a good father.

DR.
KRAKOWER: You tell me he's a depressed criminal, prone to anger,
serially unfaithful. Is that your definition of a good man?

CARMELA:
I thought psychiatrists weren't supposed to be judgmental.

DR.
KRAWKOWER: Many patients want to be excused for their current predicament
because of events that occurred in their childhood. That's what
psychiatry has become in America. Visit any shopping mall or ethnic
pride parade to witness the results.

And
for another incisive exchange:

CARMELA:
He betrays me every week with these whores!

DR.
KRAKOWER: Probably the least of his misdeeds.

Dr.
Krakower argues that if Tony turns himself in, reads Crime and
Punishment, and "reflect[s] on his crimes every day for
seven years in his cell, then he might be redeemed." In the
meantime, Carmela should secede from the marriage. (Krakower won't
even accept payment for the session because "I won't take blood
money." What a guy!)

Krakower
doesn't romanticize Tony's disposition or coddle Carmela with "You're
doing your best, that's all you can do" inanity. The good doctor
assesses Tony to be the irascible adulterer and criminal he is.
This is one of the few times you'll find a Mafia-oriented drama
overtly identify its subject's deviancy. (Donnie Brasco comes
close with its bleak portrayal of the supposedly glamorous Mafia
lifestyle.)

With
Dr. Krakower's moral commentary, The Sopranos seems to be
taking a right turn insofar as it includes an admirable conservative
character. (Note Krakower's derision of contemporary America's mindless
mall culture and neurotic tribalism.) If you haven't seen Episode
33, let me assure you that Krakower is depicted as a first-class
mensch.

I
speculate The Sopranos' bigwigs are closet Rothbardians.
Krakower is a short, elderly, magisterial yet folksy Jewish man.
Have the powers that be been listening to the Ludwig
von Mises Institute's audio excerpts of Rothbard's lectures
?

I'm
being facetious, of course, but the old-school sagacity's still
there. In fact, if we extend Krakower's critique of Tony to government,
we find a pretty accurate description of our most recent ex-president's
phallocentric foreign policy and periodic philandering that were
criminal through and through. (Ok, so Bomber Bill's a lot brighter
than Troglodyte Tony. That's actually worse given the persuasive
powers of intelligent criminals – Clinton case in point.)

Philosopher
Joshua Halberstam observes that "When you refuse to judge someone,
you refuse to take that person seriously." Dr. Krakower doesn't
hesitate to call a spade a spade, and his candor shows more respect
for Carmela Soprano than the leftist quacks that would appease her
warped worldview.

April
13, 2001

Myles
Kantor lives in Boynton Beach, Florida.

Myles
Kantor Archives

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