November 1, 2003 | Issue 6

Review: The Sopranenbaums Premiere Episode

article pic NEW YORK, NY — [] The premiere episode for the newest HBO series, The Sopranenbaums, started with a shuckle. In the opening credits a brutal beat-down is administered with lulavim on a rabbi who refused to say that a local Williamsburg bakery was kosher. The scene ends with the rabbi agreeing to bless the cookies.

The show revolves around the boss of the Sopranenbaum crime family, Yoli Sopranenbaum. He's a big, tough looking, shtreimel wearing, peyos flying chasid who is not used to hearing the word "nein." At the legitimate end the family is in the Kashrus Management industry, but their illegal business dealings include ribbis scams, pilegesh rings and tabbik running.

It's made clear to the viewer that Yoli has a hard time juggling his two families. He has a stressed out wife with 14 kids on one end and a large egotistical criminal family on the other.

In the third scene Yoli goes to the Falshemeisos Rebbe to talk his problems out. He's torn between revealing information that might jeopardize his family dealings and the need to unload his troubles. There is a great flashback sequence that shows him with his nephew, Yitzchak "The Itche from Berdiche" Goldberg, chasing down, and then beating up, a tabbik addict who owed them money.

I was impressed with the depth of the characters on the show. I especially found the Miriam character interesting. She's the 16-year-old daughter of Yoli and the most rebellious of her six sisters. When Miriam gets caught in seamless stockings she defiantly yells back at her mother, "I know all about the aveiros that Totty does! I'll stop wearing untznius stockings as soon as Totty stops supplying the tabbik dealers on the yeshiva corner!"

Overall the show has a lot of potential. One plotline that might be developed further is the competition between the Sopranenbaums and the Shomrim and Hatzoloh crime syndicates. They just touched on it in the first episode when Pinchas "Groisa Kats" Rosen slashed the tires of a Hatzoloh ambulance after they tried to move in on the Williamsburg kashrus racket.

The Mel Gibson co-produced series was originally supposed to be in Yiddish with English subtitles, but in the end they made it with a mixture of English and Yinglish. Next Sunday you can be sure I will be wearing my shtriemel in front of my TV, with my remote in one hand and a beer (Mayim Chayim) in the other.

As Yoli says, "Fargessvegeness."


Pencil Chaim Y got the ball rolling, so you owe him big. He co-founded the with Martin Bodek, a day which will forever live in famy. His hobbies include gum-chewing, bubblewrap-popping, and comparing chometz horror stories. He lives in a city with people.


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