“Family Aint Shit”: Why There is no Model Family
A picture that pops into mind when one thinks of the term “family”: Mother prepares dinner, Father comes home from a hard day’s work, and the children walk into the house from school. The group sits at the dinner table and discusses the day’s activities with a genuine smile on their faces. Everything for this family is perfect. This example is just a traditional family portrait and is far from the reality of many modern families. It is so far from reality that the entire definition of “family” can be skewed into whatever subjective opinion one wants. Cold-blooded, homicidal menaces to society can create a “family” by forming a gang which may have more inner peace than a dysfunctional blood family. Friends can consider themselves family even when they share no blood ties. Gay couples, single males, and parents of different ethnicities can adopt a child and form the “legal” definition of a family. There is no set-in-stone definition of family; with the complexity of the modern world, the term “family” can be used to describe blood relations or simply any group of people a bond is felt with.
The HBO drama The Sopranos promises to make its viewers rethink the term “family” with a tagline such as “Meet Tony Soprano, if one family doesn’t kill him… the other family will” (IMDB). The two families the show speaks about are of two different worlds. The first family (often dysfunctional) is Tony Soprano’s blood family that includes his wife and children. The second family (a complete blood-splattered mess) is Tony’s Mafia affiliations. In the episode “The Happy Wanderer”, Tony takes the role as the head of house in both families and must balance his life between being a Mob boss and being a father. Violence and drama takes place in both, though more so in the Mafia than his legal family. Despite this, he manages to maintain a somewhat normal level of equilibrium so that his life is balanced out (most of the time). When he starts to struggle with his life, Tony settles for a break by going into therapy sessions where he explores why he has issues with his family; nevertheless, he can never seem to discover a cure for his problems (“The Happy Wanderer”). Through thick and thin, Tony Soprano is stuck with both families and there is no way (sans death) he can escape them. The Sopranos’ main point about family is that family does not necessarily have to be formed by a blood relation (as seen by referring to the mob as a “crime family”) and that you are stuck with what family you are a part of.
The Sopranos forms a definition of family is almost identical to my own (the exception being its claim that you are stuck with your family) and supports it fully. It allows for more than just people with blood relations to be considered one’s family members. It shows that there can be a complete opposite definition of the traditional blood family by its use of the crime family; whose members do not have a blood...