Baddabing! It’s Tony and Harry and the Final Curtain Call

Jun 02, 2007

Posted by: SueTLC


Newsweek has a very interesting article now online comparing the (fictional) lives of Harry Potter and mob boss Tony Soprano of HBO’s award-winning and long running show “The Sopranos.” As both series are coming to an end within a few weeks of each other, the magazine takes a look at the two similarities between the very popular characters.

“Most obviously, Tony and Harry are both uneasy protagonists in their respective dramas. Each of them itches inside the confines of his role. Tony is so uncomfortable with the ramifications of his job that he’s been seeing a shrink since the series began. Harry is equally uneasy being cast as the designated hitter in the ultimate battle of good and evil against Lord Voldemort. They are, in short, very modern heroes, the kind consumed by self-doubt.”

This lengthy article continues to focus on some of the larger moral issues within each of the series, and sums up with the following:

There are very few books for children that endow their protagonists with the complexity that characterizes Harry, and almost none that confront mortality as frankly as hers do. The books, she always promised, would grow darker as they went along, and she was as good as her word. Beloved characters have died and will die. (Sound familiar, “Sopranos” fans?) The possibility that Harry will die is now immediate with the last installment. There’s nothing to say that he has to die, but the chance that he could has been there from the start.

Tony’s case is less straight-forward. If he doesn’t die, what’s he going to do? Join the Witness Protection Program? Go on as he has? The plot requirements of stories about antiheroes—even in this gangsta era—still demand sacrifice. Unless the show is willing to go completely amoral, there has to be a reckoning at the end. He can’t just get away with it. “Godfather III” walked up to this problem and blinked, and now nobody watches “Godfather III.” So the safe money says Tony’s a goner. (And if he died in last week’s episode while we were printing the magazine, remember: we told you so.)

Harry’s problems are the problems of growing up, told on a grand scale. Tony’s problems are the problems we all wrestle with, but they’ve been run through irony’s spin cycle—it’s black comedy: the travails of the gangster as middle-class homeowner, father and husband. But their differences are ultimately less important than their similarities. In the most important ways, Harry’s and Tony’s are the same story: epic tales about how to live, and we’ve stuck with them not because they supply answers but because they ask the right questions. Now it’s their turn to come up with some answers. Parents and children alike, we’re all waiting.

The final episode of “The Sopranos” is due to air on cable channel HBO June 10, while the final installment in the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, will be released on July 21.

The Leaky Cauldron is not associated with J.K. Rowling, Warner Bros., or any of the individuals or companies associated with producing and publishing Harry Potter books and films.