Sopranos: Viewers Furious/Flummoxed Over User-Generated Ending

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1a.m. PDT:

Viewers reacted swiftly and angrily across the Internet, venting their wrath over the much anticipated but ambiguous,  anticlimactic Sopranos finale, "Made in America."  

Here’s a sampling of messages mostly off HBO’s boards, at least the one’s that are printable.

"That was an AMAZING finale, it ranks right up there with the Seinfeld finale."

"Chase needs to have a sit down with Alan Ball [Six Feet Under] who could teach him a few things."

"Chase has entered the witness protection program because of the backlash from this final episode. He’s gone to ground…its an expression."

In the final scene, the Soprano family takes their seats one by one at a local diner.  AJ is cured of his depression after watching his Nissan Xterra explode.  Meadow has found true love and probably a job that pays $170,000 per year.  Carmela appears to be working on her next real estate project.  Tony has finally learned (a little) to check his need to wallow in the emotional deprivation of his childhood.  The music in the diner is too loud and the camera cuts frequently to the patrons - to a man who takes a seat at the end of the counter and to a mysterious fellow in a baseball cap with his face averted. Meadow has trouble parking her car and is the last to arrive.  She approaches the door. The bell chimes; Tony looks up and…

Nothingness.  The screen goes black.  Millions were certain that their cable systems had mysteriously crashed.  Said one user, "that was just a rotten thing to do to all the fans for all those years. I thought my cable had gone out! It wasn’t cute, it wasn’t funny, it wasn’t interesting, it was just rotten. I feel used."

Then, as the credits began to roll in silence, fans switched over to their other screens, vainly trying to sort out the cryptic conclusion.  They could easily supply their own endings based on the rich history of the series and recent breadcrumbs scattered by Chase. There was much speculation about the patrons.  Some saw Janice, Tony’s sister, walk into the diner; others were sure they spotted the hardware store owner who lost his business to Tony over gambling debts.  Many noted Tony’s flashback (in last week’s episode) to a conversation with Bobby.

There was also a controversy brewing about a shot said to be missing from the very end of the east coast feed.

Chase handed over responsibility for the finale to the viewers who were free to interpret the series according to their own prejudices and anxieties.  It’s a user-generated finale, left to the vast imagination of the audience.

The Sopranos: a national Rorschach test.

The press and viewers were certainly abuzz over the surprise ending.  A number of viewers, disgusted, said they were canceling their HBO subscriptions sooner rather than later.  Many felt cheated and manipulated. And since David Chase hasn’t ruled out a Sopranos movie, maybe they were.

UPDATE: 9:24a.m.PDT - The New York Post is trolling the HBO board for feedback from angry viewers who are threatening to cancel their subscriptions:

Posted: Jun 11, 2007 12:12 PM (1087 of 1144)

I would be interested in hearing from anyone, via e-mail, who’s cancelling their subscription to HBO because of their disappointment over last night’s "Sopranos" finale.


Michael Starr

TV Columnist

The New York Post