Sopranos creator David Chase's explanation of Tony's fate reminds us how nuanced the show was

It's not about death, it's about time

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The Independent Culture

If The Sopranos had been made in 2014, Meadow's relationship with Noah would probably have ended because he was driven away by Tony over his being mixed race. As it happened in TV's so-called 'golden age', the couple stayed together in spite of Tony's racism and Meadow ended up breaking up with Noah simply because he turned out to be an asshole.

It's this lightness of touch that made The Sopranos so brilliant, and the recent attempts to make Tony's fate binary, life or death, are insulting to its sensibility.

David Chase discussed the controversial Vox interview which claimed that he had said that Tony lived with The Daily Beast at Venice Film Festival, saying his words were taken out of context and providing some more detailed analysis and insisting the ending should be open to viewers' interpretation:

"I’ll say this: The question is, to be really pretentious, what is time? How do we spend our really brief sojourn here? How do we behave, and what do we do? And the recognition that it’s over all too soon, and it very seldom happens the way we think. I think death very seldom comes to people the way they think it’s going to. And the spiritual question would be: “Is that all there is?"

He went on to point to a quote from the rarely profound Paulie Walnuts that is telling of the themes circling in the finale.

"What can I say about that ending? I guarantee you that with everything I’ve said to you just now, people will find fault with what I’ve said, or people will say, “That’s a cliché.” So be it! So, is he dead or is he alive? Paulie says in the beginning of the episode, “In the midst of life, we are in death. Or is it: in the midst of death, we are in life?” I don’t know what else to say."

His comments show how ridiculous the 'did he live or die' debate is, and how it is actually the complete opposite of what the show was trying to convey, that the two are in a way indistinct from each other.

With Bobby Baccala's "You probably don't even hear it when it happens, right?" and Sil's admission that he didn't even know what had happened when the first shot was fired into Gerry Torciano also coming in the final season, all the clues were there really that The Sopranos was not about death, but our having no real concept of it.