The Sopranos has no shortage of displays of dysfunction, be it within a family or a romantic relationship. It can be said that the titular family and their involved friends, allies, enemies, and partnerships all thrive on it, as there is a give-and-gain dynamic that always comes into play as they live richly, yet with moral consequences.
One unique individual who is aware of the situation and actually tries to compensate for the moral and ethical compromises her husband and his cohorts make is Carmela, the matriarch of the immediate Soprano family, wife to Tony Soprano, and played by Edie Falco. Though she embraces the lifestyle, she suffers tremendously for it in a myriad of different ways.
She Buys Into A Materialistic Lifestyle
Carmela is a huge consumerist, not only being driven to continue her partnership with Tony and his relationship with the mob to support the children but to support her rich lifestyle.
She lets this get to her head at times, even treating her friends, such as Charmagne, like lesser-than, out of her inherent belief of superiority. While this also pairs her with Tony, it also has her convinced that she can really only live off of his income.
Her Children Are Spoiled And Distant
Carmela doesn’t seem to be a bad mom. She can be overbearing and overprotective, but also seems to be compensating for Tony’s lacking sense of parental guidance and nurturing skills, overall.
This leads to both their children retaliating and picking fights with Carmela on a multitude of occasions, often emotionally bargaining and manipulating her to get whatever they want. It gets to the point where Carmela’s relationship with AJ gets so bad, she lets him move into Tony’s.
She Never Got To Be With Furio
The will-they-or-won’t-they rollercoaster plotline of Carmela and Furio, Tony’s most powerful security guard and hitman, was one of the series’ most interesting. It never really goes past prolonged looks of longing and gifts, but they both feel physically and emotionally tied to each other.
Whether or not this would have been a good pair is debatable, as Furio also had a propensity towards violence, but viewers still somehow shipped them regardless. All hearts were broken, though, as knowing his life would be in danger if he were to strike up an affair with Carmela, Furio movies back to Italy.
Carmela Feels Unloved, Fueling Her Sadness
Because a majority of Carmela’s relationships are unsupported by real connections and any emotional ties, they fall apart easily. Her relationship with Tony is immensely hot-and-cold for too many reasons, her children are spoiled and are blinded by their rich lifestyle, and a majority of her extended friends and family are critical or fake.
Carmela really only has her parents and close friends, Adrianna and Rosalie. Otherwise, Carmela is very rarely shown any real intimate love and ultimately feels like a tool.
Her Hopes and Dreams Are Always Shot Down
Carmela had dreams and aspirations outside of being a mob wife to a picturesque family. She wanted to build a home and flip it and she had extensive projects and worked and researched hard to do them to the best of her ability, only for Tony to throw money at her to make her be quiet.
He literally talks about using the concept house as a way to satiate Carmela and keep her busy, rather than make her happy. When the project is sabotaged due to things out of Carmela’s control, Tony is quick to bring her back into her place as a housewife.
Tony Never Really Listened To Or Respected Her
When Carmela warned Tony about his relationships with his family members, he never listened, which ended up in him getting burned and betrayed by his mother, shot by his uncle, and other shocking things.
He doesn’t give her any credit other than “being the mother of his children,” which is also a likely reason as to why she was kept alive. Otherwise, he doesn’t pay attention to anything she says, even if it’s completely common sense.
She Has To Put Up With Tony’s Cheating
Sadly, it seemed that cheating is a common thing amongst the Jersey mob families, as the men regularly keep mistresses as a way to try to make themselves “happy” and Tony, in particular, is ruthless when it comes to gathering mistresses.
Carmela, someone who considers herself righteous and religious, is fed up and humiliated when it’s revealed Tony has one mistress after another.
She Couldn’t Break Free From Tony
After their last and “final” violent confrontation, in which Carmela finds out about Tony’s affair with Irina and Svetlana, Tony defends himself to the fullest degree, even shoving Carmela up against a wall and threatening her.
It was a scary incident and resulted in Carmela demanding a divorce and the house. But after all that happened and when it seemed that Carmela might end up having a better life outside of Tony Soprano, she ends up getting roped back into the relationship. “Time heals all wounds,” and in Carmela’s case, it made her forget them. Ultimately, they end up right back where they started in their marriage, with Carmela no better off.
Tony Puts Her Life In Danger
Being the wife of Tony Soprano seems dangerous enough. They store weapons in their house in case rivals intend to hurt them, though it’s ironic that Carmela actually ends up using one of the hidden guns to threaten Tony and to get him away from her.
Out of all the dangers that Carmela faces, though, Tony Soprano is likely the most dangerous of all, as he sometimes seems on the edge of wanting to kill her.
She’s In Denial About Her And Her Children Being Victims Of Abuse
Carmela says multiple times throughout the show that “Tony has never laid a hand on me or the children,” which is absolutely not true. Unfortunately, perhaps for self-preservation, she’s convinced that her lifestyle is fine and safe for her children. Tony rules out any problems in his relationships as “the other person’s problem.” He understands he has flaws and yet never makes the effort to be self-aware enough to change.
He hurts, threatens, berates, and disrespects his wife and children in the process, displaying acts of physical and verbal abuse, all of which Carmela ultimately felt powerless to confront, in a realistic but tragic portrayal of an abusive relationship.