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A 56 Year Olds Look At 40: When Tony Soprano Became (Kinda) Handsome

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Between the years 1999 and 2005 I was busy traveling around the world, moving across our nation, making and having a baby, and getting divorced.

Suffice it to say, I was NOT paying attention to pop culture. Weirdly, I didn’t even own a tv at the time. 

With a new boyfriend in the mix in 2005, I was introduced to the HBO series The Sopranos. The Sopranos ran on HBO from 1999 to 2007. I knew nothing about David Chase’s critically acclaimed show. Just in case you didn’t watch it, or have forgotten, The Sopranos chronicled the life of Tony Soprano: husband, father and mob boss whose professional and private strains land him in the office of a therapist. 

And with the line “A gangster goes to therapy” the ultimate antihero was born, making way for the likes of Walter White (Breaking Bad), Don Draper (Mad Men), Cersei Lannister (Game of Thrones) and Nurse Jackie. If you haven’t indulged, I highly recommend them all.

The Things We Do For Love:

Here I was, in the whirlwind of NRE (new relationship energy), with someone who was a die-hard fan of the show. Wanting me to “catch up”, he purchased the early seasons on DVD. (Remember those?) He and I began watching the series together from the start, consuming episode after episode. We binged on scenes of overweight men eating big plates of pasta, topless young women pole dancing, and violent outbursts that literally made me queasy. 

The Most Difficult Scenes For Me To Watch?

Before anyone gets their political correctness marker out”

Interestingly enough, the most difficult scenes for me were the sex scenes. Tony and his posse naked did not inspire me. As a matter of fact, they repulsed me. I remember thinking to myself, “Why would anyone want to see old, overweight, hairy men having sex?”

Before anyone gets their political correctness marker out, I’m disclosing these thoughts for a reason. I have a confession in the making. Bear with me. (Pun intended.)

Just last week, I discovered my current boyfriend re-watching the series on HBO Max. He invited me to watch with him. My initial reaction was: “No, thank you. I was too grossed out the first time.” Sharing with him my ageism and body shaming biases, no holds barred. 

But as things are wont to go when someone in your household is “up to something” — whether it be eating a cookie or watching T.V. ––  one ends up participating. He was gracious enough to begin from the beginning. I sat next to him prepared to muscle through the fleshy, visual affront to my sensibilities. 

When Tony Soprano Became (Kinda) Handsome:

Tony Soprano isn’t old. Tony Soprano isn’t grotesquely overweight. I started to giggle. That visceral repugnance I remembered did not occur. As a matter of fact, I found myself thinking: “He’s kind of cute and affable”. Of course, in a highly-flawed, anti-hero sort of way. But, nonetheless not repulsive in the least.

Then It Hit Me:

My viewfinder at 40 was incredibly skewed.”

Quickly, I googled: “How old was James Gandolfini when he starred in The Sopranos?”. The answer: 37. The funny part? He was younger than I was AT THE TIME I originally watched the series. My viewfinder at 40 was incredibly skewed. An athlete at the time, training in martial arts, I was in amazing shape. My peer group, too, all in top-notch physical condition. Everyone I was seeing naked was lean, sculpted, and never out of breath. (That’s not as lurid as it sounds. I’m referring to the locker room at the dojang.)

Sixteen years later, my skin sags, age spots populate my face, and my crows feet are permanently etched in the corner of my eyes. Now when I look at Tony I see youthfulness. And yes, while Tony is no elite athlete, through these 56-year-old eyes I found the day when Tony Soprano became “kinda” handsome. Who knows, maybe this time around I’ll actually enjoy the sex scenes, which if I remember correctly are plentiful. Stay tuned.

4 thoughts on “A 56 Year Olds Look At 40: When Tony Soprano Became (Kinda) Handsome

  1. Janet Neustedter says:

    I loved that show! My husband thought it was too violent, so I watched it by myself – my guilty pleasure! I was a little older than James when I watched it. They did a good job of making his character redeemable or the series wouldn’t have worked.

    • Kuel Membership logo large
      Kuel Life says:

      I am really enjoying re-watching it…. Liking it so much better this time around. I now “get it” …. I must have been in a weird “state” the first time around. It IS rather violent, agreed.

  2. Laura says:

    Well, maybe because I still had a pregnancy and breastfeeding body when I was watching, I found him kind of alluring, in a very anti-hero kind of way.

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