In defense of the underrated AJ Soprano

Adam Tumino

As anyone who I have spoken to in the last two months can verify, I have been watching “The Sopranos,” David Chase’s show about mob boss Tony Soprano and his family, for the first time.

I just finished the series last week, but many of the characters have been stuck in my mind since.

One character in particular has been at the forefront since I saw a tweet from rapper Wale on Saturday where he asked who people’s least favorite character in the show was.

I had a hard time choosing. Each character in the show brought something to the table that was valuable to the function of the story.

Sure most of them are terrible people, but that doesn’t mean they were bad characters.

To my surprise, many people in the comments said that Tony’s son AJ was their least favorite character, some using the words “pointless” and “replaceable” to describe him.

These people are way off base. AJ Soprano is one of the most valuable characters in the show.

One of his strengths as a character is that he brings something unique to the show’s landscape. He is the only major character who is the son of a mobster who does not follow in his father’s footsteps.

Every other major male character whose father was in the outfit wound up there themselves.

This makes AJ’s perspective unique, as he is the spoiled son of a mob boss who does not have the intelligence, temperament or lack of morals to pick up the family business.

AJ is also the opposite of what Tony probably wanted in his son, and their relationship is tense as a result.

But perhaps AJ’s greatest strength as a character is that he is perhaps the most relatable to the average viewer. The issues he deals with are things that most people have to deal with in real life.

Tony tries to decide whether or not to have people killed. That is hopefully not relatable to most people. AJ’s older sister Meadow tries to decide between med school and law school or which Ivy League college to attend. This is not a decision that many people have to make.

AJ’s decisions are often about how he is going to get through life and deal with his emotions. He is the most grounded character in the cast.

But AJ would not be much as a character if not for the performance of Robert Iler in the role.

He does an excellent job as AJ, beginning at 14-years-old in the first season and growing as a troublemaking teenager and then deeply depressed young adult.

Iler excels in AJ’s saddest scenes and in some of his funniest, like when he gets his eyebrows shaved off or does not understand what rain gutters are when told to clean them.

So leave AJ alone. He is an incredibly valuable character, as is every other character on “The Sopranos.”

Except Artie Bucco. Artie Bucco sucks.

 

Adam Tumino is a senior journalism major. He can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]