an abundance of pleasures

tony and brian

James Gandolfini was terrific in tonight's Sopranos episode. He always is, but tonight was especially fine. There was a scene near the end, when Tony was in a therapy session and he was coming to a possible honest realization about his parents, and Gandolfini played it perfectly, the emotions and the suppression of the emotions fighting it out on his face.

I've been wondering lately if the fact that the fictional mob boss Tony Soprano goes to a therapist has enabled some of the show's fans to accept the possibility of therapy in their own lives, on the level of "well, if Tony Soprano goes to therapy, maybe I can, too." It seems kinda trite, but I bet it's true for some people.

And then, oddly enough, something similar happened on tonight's season debut for Queer As Folk. The theme of the new season, it appears, will be that everyone is finally going to become grown ups. And my favorite character, Brian Kinney, is going to start his own business, which will be risky for him, as he has always been successful and is used to the trappings of a successful life, and now he's facing the unknown.

He is also someone who always places himself before anyone else, but having done so, he is capable of helping others ... and, in fact, there's the suggestion that he's able to help others because he always helps himself first, which allows him the luxury of helping others. He would never ask anyone else for help, though ... it's a pride thing. And for that reason, among others, Brian Kinney is as much a typical male as Tony Soprano, perhaps even more so ... he needs to be in control, he won't accept help from others, he is his own man. That Brian Kinney is also the uber gay man on a show devoted to gay men is an interesting added touch.

But I said there was something in tonight's QAF episode that reminded me of the earlier scene with Tony on Sopranos. For plot-related reasons I don't need to detail here, Brian Kinney needs a little help at the moment. And he won't ask for it, because of that pride thing. So his friends (and he has them, even if he pretends to act like he is his only friend) get together and help him out. And he accepts their help. Which is like a cataclysmic moment in QAF history, and Gale Harold, the actor who plays Brian, matches the emotional intensity of James Gandolfini as the emotions and the suppression of the emotions fight it out on Brian/Gale's face. When, after noting that he isn't the kind of person who will accept assistance, Brian thanks everyone and does indeed take their help, I lost it. And I realized that Brian Kinney isn't just one of my favorite teevee characters these days, he's also my hero in a weird way.

And then I thought about my theory about Tony Soprano and therapy and fans of the show. And I wondered to myself if perhaps maybe I could accept the help of friends, too. After all, if Brian Kinney can do it, maybe I can, too.