The Emotional Intelligence of the Sopranos
I am now at that time in life where you start doing the things you ought to have done earlier but never had the time. For example I am now reading Don Quixote and have just finished the 450 pages of the first book.
Another project I set myself (am I an E or what?) is to watch some of the key television series that I have never seen. I recently set myself the goal of watching all 86 episodes of The Sopranos. I must confess that after the first four episodes I was beginning to have my doubts as to whether I would finish the project. Then I watched episode 5 ‘College’.
Now I understand why the Sopranos is rated so highly. College is the episode where Tony Soprano takes his daughter, Meadow, to various colleges on the East Coast for her initial interviews. During the drives between the interviews, Tony and his daughter talk about various issues finishing with the mutually agreed need to be honest with one another so they can build a platform of trust. While the interviews are going on Tony, recognises, tracks down and kills an FBI informant with his bare hands but denies to his daughter that he has been doing anything.
Meanwhile back at his home his wife is pouring out her heart to her priest about the double life she is leading as a pillar of society and family, combined with being tainted with Mafia money. She believes she has made a pact with the Devil and tells the priest “I have forsaken what is right for what is easy.” Then she nearly cheats on Tony until the priest suddenly excuses himself to be sick in the toilet.
The key to the episode is a quote on the wall of the last college Tony and Meadow visit.
“No man can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which one may be true.” Nathaniel Hawthorne
Authenticity is often quoted as necessary factor in leadership. I must confess that I have often thought that authenticity of leaders was like sincerity – if you can fake it, you have got it made. However now armed the Hawthorne quote I realise what the problem is, and how some people can be two faced. They are not bewildered as to which face is true. They believe both are, even if they are in opposition. They lack the moral compass to distinguish between the two faces.
In 1999 this episode won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing in a Drama Series and is ranked #2 on TV Guide’s list of “TV’s Top 100 Episodes of All Time”. Both honours were richly deserved
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