Don't stop believing: textual excesses and discourses of satisfaction in the finale of The Sopranos
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Zeller-Jacques, M. (2014) Don't stop believing: textual excesses and discourses of satisfaction in the finale of The Sopranos. In: Stewart, M. (ed.) Melodrama in Contemporary Film and Television. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 114-129.
While every television program with a passionate following will attract significant comment when it comes to an end, few endings have been so prominently featured in public discourse as that of The Sopranos (1999–2007). The historical importance of the show, which sat on the cusp of a new generation of ‘quality’ television drama spearheaded by the subscription cable channel, HBO, combined with its tremendous critical and popular success, meant that the final episode of the series received the kind of attention reserved only for shows that are seen as part of the Zeitgeist. Major newspapers and magazines covered the ending, fans commented on blogs and message boards and produced alternative endings that they posted on Youtube, and everyone from television comedians to presidential candidate Hilary Clinton tried to capitalize on the cultural moment by offering their own parodies and homages. If this discursive deluge makes The Sopranos a poor case study for those wishing to examine a ‘typical’ television ending, it also makes it a goldmine for those wishing to explore the variety of discourses that may circulate around any television ending. The public discourse around the finale of The Sopranos provides an ideal mass of comment from which to discern the more general discourses that shape comment around television endings, furnishing ample examples of what I will call the ‘platonic’, ‘melodramatic’ and ‘industrial’ discourses.