U of C professor psychoanalyses the Mob

The Sorpranos on the Couch is what one would expect from a book about a television novel spanning three years. And yet, it is not. In addition to episodic summaries and analysis, this book also delves into the oblique network of subtlties that makes a series worthwhile.

Like any good fan tribute work, U of C professor Maurice Yacowar has gone to great depths to analyze and expound on what we see on the screen. An abundant amount of detail is included to illustrate both metaphoric and literal connections and to reveal deeper meanings.

The casual but critical style is somewhat reminiscent of the Cynic’s Corner and Lurker’s Guide series of reviews, but with a unicohesive clarity and purpose not found elsewhere. For example, Yacowar intelligently discusses the many portents in episodes prior to Pussy’s death in Commendatóri and even discusses the singing fish symbolism throughout the series.

But, on the Couch is not off-the-shelf reading. While the introduction and conclusion both provide succinct entry points into the series and the book itself, readers may become lost in the plethora of details about each episode. Fans of the series will appreciate the insider production information, commentary from the dvd releases, and other trivia are sprinkled throughout the analysis. However, such detail sometimes bogs down readers not already familiar with the show.

This volume is also an academic powerhouse which covers everything including acting and directing, history, psychology and American culture, which makes it an interesting analytical read. As well, the book includes an appendix comparing both cinimatographical and story elements from the show to those found in The Godfather series, which reveals both obvious and subtle homages and a cast list for each episode.

Buy the book if you’re a curious fan or want an in-depth study of the series. But don’t think it’s a substitute for watching the masterpiece.

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