sopranosComing out of Yom Kippur and a little over a month after Ramadan with Thanksgiving and Christmas on the horizon, I’ve decided it was time for an annual observance of my own—I’m re-watching the Sopranos, all 86 episodes over six seasons.  Whether you’re religious or not, I think everyone has that one thing they do every year just for them: whether it’s a trip, reading a book, or going to a game between the home team and their bitter rivals.   For me, it’s watching 86 hours of Tony Soprano say “fuck,” screw, and murder.

I could go on and regurgitate everything that’s already been written about the show and how it opened the floodgates for quality television.  Its premise allows for an exploration of a variety of themes from the psychological and family to the nature of violence and the balance between good and evil.  But that’s not what I want to write about.  It just seems that I keep coming back to this show that I’ve seen a million times.  Every time I watch an episode I see something different or catch something in a scene I never noticed before.  I think that’s how you can tell good storytelling—it’s never stale.

I remember when I got into the Sopranos—my parents had just gotten their first DVD player and my dad was searching for stuff to watch on it.  It seemed every other day he was bringing home some classic old movie, just released title, or TV show.  We didn’t have HBO, but we’d still heard the inescapable buzz about the show.  Then one day he brought home the complete first season.  “I’ve seen it a couple times on the road,” he said.  “It’s really good.”

I was in the midst of finals for my Junior year of high school and I almost failed because I kept sneaking down in the middle of the night to watch the next episode.  But I wasn’t the only one hooked, both my parents got into it.  I’m pretty sure the Sopranos is the only show that features a constant stream of nudity, violence, and cursing that you can watch with your mother right next to you on the couch.  Still, I was always the bigger fan in the family.  I absconded with the DVD’s when I went off to college.  Made friends with people who lived off campus and had HBO so I could keep up with new episodes.  And when I couldn’t swing that, I had my parents tape and mail them to me.  Each season DVD box set became a defacto Christmas and birthday gifts for me.

But my annual Sopranos marathon isn’t just about watching my favorite show all over again, it’s sort of a reboot.  It resets my mindset to take a deeper look at the world, not for mobsters and FBI agents, but for the the undercurrent of themes that run through my own  life.  It makes me reflect on what drives me and the people in my life.