Published on June 11th, 2013 | by Clint Davis
‘The Sopranos’ Finale Still Stuns
This year has been one of finales. So far in 2013, we’ve said goodbye to well-written network comedies The Office and 30 Rock, fan-favorite sci-fi fare like Fringe and Futurama, reality bummers like Intervention, and inevitable cancellations like Smash and Animal Practice. Later this year, dark dramas like Dexter and Breaking Bad will sign off for the final time–leaving audiences without two of their favorite antiheroes.
Ending a show is as tricky a proposition for any writer to undertake, look at Seinfeld–it was the best-written sitcom in television history but crapped the bed in its final outing. Resorting to a parade of guest stars and recurring character appearances is one way to cheapen your ending, while completely pulling the rug from under your loyal viewers is another (St. Elsewhere). Meanwhile, ending a series in the same tone you’ve carried through over 50 episodes seems to be tougher still, let alone in an understated manner.
If you check my favorites page, you’ll see I’m among the legions of fans that consider HBO’s The Sopranos to be the greatest television show ever to air. It’s hardly a unique stance to take, and I’m not going to bother explaining my laundry list of reasons for taking it–but the finale is one that still sparks debate among fans and haters of the show.
On Sunday, June 10, 2007, show creator David Chase unleashed what has to be the most controversial series finale in television history. It’s not often that single episodes of a scripted program stick out almost a decade after airing, but “Made in America” is certainly one of them. The Sopranos is a series many people got into because they dug gangster pictures and thought it looked like a gritty show about life in the mob, but it’s a series that more people became enthralled by as a picture of American family life, and the deepest character study ever onscreen. For eight years, Chase and his writing staff asked us to take a good look our own insecurities and fears while pushing his lead character Tony Soprano to the edge of sanity.
There have been entire websites dedicated to explaining “the ending” of The Sopranos, and while some consensus has been reached–it’s still a question that will incite fans to quote cryptic passages from early seasons in reaching a conclusion. I subscribe to the belief that “it’s all there”, when it comes to this series and its stunning final moments. Chase’s series is full of brilliant foreshadowing, no moment better than this scene, which I’ll always believe tells you everything you need to know to understand the ending.
Six year later, The Sopranos finale “Made in America” still gets my heart rate up just thinking about its tension-filled closing. I consider it the most-fitting ending a television series has ever had, and anyone saying different just simply wasn’t watching the same show. Perhaps more impressive though, is that whenever I hear Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin'”, a song we’ve all heard a billion times–I now only think of onion rings, vinyl booths, a members only jacket, and a front door chime.