The Modern (and Mixed-Up) Family
From "Breaking Bad" to SundanceTV’s "Rectify," a pair of award-winning producers are putting a new, twisted spin on the American Dream. What does this novel framework say about TV, and the contemporary American family?
“It’s good to be in something from the ground floor,” Tony Soprano complained to his psychiatrist in the pilot episode of HBO’s “The Sopranos.” “I came in too late for that, I know…The best is over.”
Tony (James Gandolfini) had been suffering from panic attacks, and he lamented his declining life as a suburban mobster, husband, father, and son. For Tony, the glory days were over, but at the time of the “Sopranos” pilot, in 1999, they were really just beginning for us television watchers. The award-winning “Sopranos,” which went on for six dramatic seasons, was itself the “ground floor” in the golden age of riveting family drama on the small screen, and it whet our appetite for what was to come.
Prior to “The Sopranos,” the TV drama had become stagnant. It relied heavily on the weekly procedural format, plopped squarely in the cozy crosshairs of crime, medicine, and the law. The protagonists of these shows were perpetually faced with a new mystery to solve, another patient to heal, one m…
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