Update: We have published The Many Saints of Wall Street - October 1, 2021 Newsletter !
The Many Saints of Wall Street
The most interesting thing I read last month was an article called “Why Is Every Young Person in America Watching ‘The Sopranos’?” by Willy Staley in The New York Times (September 29, 2021). The Sopranos ran on HBO from 1997 to 2007 and the long-awaited prequel film, The Many Saints of Newark, was released today. Mr. Staley explores the reasons why the show is experiencing a revival of interest among young people (though I think it extends to all age groups). He writes that “[t]he show’s depiction of contemporary America as relentlessly banal and hollow is plainly at the core of the current interest in the show, which coincides with an era of crisis across just about every major institution in American life. ‘The Sopranos’ has a persistent focus on the spiritual and moral vacuum at the center of this country, and is oddly prescient about its coming troubles: the opioid epidemic, the crisis of meritocracy, teenage depression and
The Sopranos depicted a violent criminal American subculture in a manner reflective of larger pathologies at work in our society. One of the most notable aspects of the series was its unusually undesirable characters, virtually all of whom engaged in illegal and morally repugnant behavior. Remarkable (and often humorous) writing and stunning acting created characters in whom viewers invested themselves despite their consistently ugly, anti-social and destructive behavior. Viewers were drawn to watch reprehensible behavior much as people are attracted to natural disasters or traffic accidents. And once again they are attracted to the story as they watch things falling apart around them.