Drea de Matteo Looks Back on ‘The Sopranos’ & Its Controversial Ending
Woke up this morning … and found yourself still in quarantine? Have no fear because Drea de Matteo and Chris Kushner are here with your next audio binge, Made Women.
The former Sopranos star is teaming up with her best friend for this new Sopranos-angled podcast which is taking the re-watch format and flipping it on its head. “We would call it more of a relate than a rewatch because there are a lot of Soprano re-watches out there,” de Matteo says. “Right now, we’re tackling worldly issues through the lens of The Sopranos.”
“We’re just two foul-mouthed broads that watch The Sopranos and relate it to our own life episode by episode,” adds Kushner. Made Women covers a range of topics beyond The Sopranos as the ladies recall memories from their own lives, recipes of Italian favorites such as baked ziti and pastina, and discuss the show with guests.
Along with their “relate” episodes, they also engage with fans in “Fanabla Thursday” episodes, answering questions and offering new insight on the HBO original. So far, episodes have featured guests ranging from former castmates Robert Iler and Michael Imperioli to Juliette Lewis and comedian Bill Burr.
The duo have covered a lot of ground since the podcast’s launch this March, and they’ve even been sharing episodes on YouTube, but de Matteo wants to make it clear, “We started the podcast before the quarantine, but we started YouTube in the quarantine,” she says. “So it’s Zoom and it’s kind of s***ty quality, but we’re not s***ty quality [Laughs].”
The Sopranos may have premiered more than 20 years ago in 1999, but the story of a mob boss making an effort to better his life through therapy hasn’t lost relevancy and that’s why it manages to fit so seamlessly into de Matteo and Kushner’s format. “Whether or not this is a show that could be made today? I a hundred percent think it could,” de Matteo clarifies. “There are a lot of sensitive subjects, but David Chase doesn’t try to ‘Hollywood’ anything. Everything is as it is, and it is a [genuine] retelling of a subculture.”
“The reason why the show was so successful in my opinion, back when it was coming out, is that it had something for everybody,” de Matteo adds. “It was so universally accepted because you had people that were watching it for the mob genre alone. Then the show goes ahead and transcends the mob genre completely with its family values and with all of the existential crises that all of the characters go through each season.”
“You had people watching it because they really understood the literary undertones and how beautifully written it was, how it really was a piece of art,” she continues. “Today people don’t want you to hand them dumbed down s**t, and we broke that mold. We were the ones that cracked that mold 20 years ago.”
As the show continues to find new life years later, de Matteo isn’t wrong — The Sopranos has been a benchmark for nearly every series that has proceeded it. And now with the arrival of WarnerMedia’s HBO Max, streaming of the show is sure to continue. “I can’t believe 20-year-olds are watching the show,” de Matteo exclaims. “I just thought, like any other show, it would just [fade] into the past. But no, it’s had a complete rebirth.”
The actress also notes surprise over the fact that some people remain unaware of her character Adriana La Cerva’s fate. “I was going to say … we have to really watch out for our spoilers,” Kushner chimes in, adding, “We didn’t realize that some people are watching it for the first time and they’re younger. So that’s been a challenge for Drea and I, because we just divulge things.”
Without divulging too much though, de Matteo looks to the future, noting that, “I do know that there was one episode that always stood out for me and that was [the Season 3 installment] ‘University.’ So I’m excited to attack that one,” she says.
Kushner’s most-anticipated is the Season 5 episode, “Long Term Parking,” which holds some major significance for de Matteo’s character. “I get excited when we have different Sopranos castmates on, dissecting the episodes,” Kushner admits. “So it’s kind of just relative to who’s on and what episode we’re dissecting.”
“We’re not going to try to pretend that we know what we’re doing,” de Matteo says of her and Kushner’s podcast expertise. “We’re sort of inviting the audience to watch us grow and learn and figure it out.” It’s certainly something to consider, as a show which debuted far before the age of social media is dissected on a platform that never existed until years after that The Sopranos‘ fade to black.
“These things become a testament to the quality of the show coming out at that time with zero personal PR from each actor. We also would have been dealing with some issues as far as spoilers because the confidentiality agreements on set were literally no joke,” de Matteo says of The Sopranos set.
“I remember on Sons of Anarchy and Shades of Blue, they would want us to live tweet during the airing of each episode. Could you imagine Tony Sirico and James Gandolfini live tweeting? They’d be telling a lot of people to go f**k themselves,” de Matteo says with a laugh.
Before hanging up with de Matteo and Kushner though, we had to check in on their take of the show’s now-iconic final scene, the fade-to-black in which Tony’s (Gandolfini) sitting in a diner with his family waiting for his daughter Meadow (Jamie-Lynn Sigler) to arrive and some sketchy fellas enter the joint.
“I remember that night vividly. I had a Sopranos party at the house … and we’re watching what happens in the end. And I was like, ‘Wait a second. What just f***ing happened?’ I thought my TV glitched out because we were watching it on a big, giant, old television.
“Then I called my girlfriend who was still working on the show. She goes, ‘No, Drea. That’s the ending.’ And I’m standing there and I look at everybody and they’re all cursing,” she recalls.
“I think the point is that you just fell for what happened. Or I don’t know, maybe everything the show has been saying for six seasons just goes to black and it’s all meaningless. The show was meaningless. Tony Soprano’s life was meaningless. You could paint so many different pictures with that blank canvas,” de Matteo continues. “But then I think that David Chase has said in other interview, and I could be wrong, that Tony does in fact die.”
“Coming from a film school background, we used to tear movies apart. We would draw conclusions that were probably never even there, but how much fun it would be for things to be the way you want? The end of the season for me was just another element of that. There was so much ambiguity around the show, never perfect answers,” de Matteo concluded.
“I know,” Kushner adds. “That’s why I wanted it at the end. I wanted that perfect answer because this show had so much ambiguity throughout it. I wanted it tied up in a little nice bow at the end.”
“Imagine if we had social media back then?” de Matteo ponders. “They would have been pissed if he died, and they would have been pissed if he lived, but you couldn’t win.” She isn’t wrong — the show wrapped in 2007 and people are still musing about its ending over 10 years later.
Hear more of de Matteo and Kushner’s thoughts about The Sopranos by tuning into their podcast Made Women which is available on iTunes, Tunein, and other podcast platforms. “We have a surprise guest coming on pretty soon,” Kushner reveals. “I think everybody should definitely tune in in the next couple of weeks.”
Listen in and “Don’t Stop Believin'” in The Sopranos — watch along on HBO platforms now.
The Sopranos, Streaming now, HBO Max
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