Incarceration as a Dated Badge of Honor: The Sopranos and the Screen Gangster in a Time of Flux

  • Robert Hensley-KingEmail author


This chapter interprets how attitudes toward prison become increasingly important to the dramatic tension of the final episodes of The Sopranos. The methodology of this study will combine a contextualized understanding of the period 1999–2007 (the duration of The Sopranos) as a time of multifaceted flux in the United States, with a close reading of how divergent ideas about prison offer new and valuable insights. In doing so, it shows how the central character Tony Soprano and his attitudes toward imprisonment are constructed within and against genre expectations. This chapter makes the case for differing ideas toward prison, reflecting a reimagining of the screen gangster with a particular focus on the evolving character of Tony Soprano.


  1. Akass, Kim, and Janet McCabe. 2011. “‘Blabber Mouth Cunts’; or, Speaking in Tongues: Narrative Crises for Women in The Sopranos and Feminist Dilemmas.” In The Essential Sopranos Reader, edited by David Lavery et al., 93–104. Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky.Google Scholar
  2. Butler, Judith. 1990. Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  3. Connell, R. W. 2005. Masculinities. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  4. Nelson, Robin. 2011. “Author(iz)ing Chase.” In The Essential Sopranos Reader, edited by David Lavery et al., 41–53. Lexington: The University Press of KentuckyGoogle Scholar
  5. Nochimson, Martha P. 2002. “Waddaya Lookin’ At? Rereading the Gangster Genre Through The Sopranos.” Film Quarterly 55, no. 2 (Winter): 2–13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Palmer-Mahta, Valerie. 2006. “Disciplining the Masculine: The Disruptive Power of Janice Soprano.” In Reading the Sopranos, edited by David Lavery, 56–68. London: I.B. Tauris.Google Scholar
  7. Reis, Bruce. 2009. “Names of the Father.” In Heterosexual Masculinities: Contemporary Perspectives from Psychoanalytic Gender Theory, edited by Bruce Reis and Robert Grossmark, 55–72. New York: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Ricci, Franco. 2014. The Sopranos: Born Under a Bad Sign. Toronto: Toronto University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Sutherland, Sharon, and Sarah Swan. 2011. “This Isn’t a Negotiation.” In The Essential Sopranos Reader, edited by David Lavery, 232–242. Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky.Google Scholar
  10. Toscano, Aaron A. 2014. “Tony Soprano as the American Everyman and Scoundrel: How The Sopranos (re)Presents Contemporary Middle-Class Anxieties.” The Journal of Popular Culture 47, no. 3 (Summer): 451–469.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Ghent UniversityGhentBelgium

Personalised recommendations