AJ: The Sopranos’ Most Realistic Character

The blank, uncomprehending stare of the Millennial
• July 31, 2013 9:49 am


Tony's son AJ was something of a running joke on The Sopranos: he was a whiny, directionless mess who slowed down the plot and kept us away from the action and was played with virtually no skill by Robert Iler. But as I've been watching the show's last episodes (currently playing every night at 8 p.m. on HBO Signature) I've come to realize that AJ may have been show's most realistic character.

He is the ur-Millennial. He is a whiny, self-centered mess. He has no direction, content to live at home while he waits for the world to bring him his desires. He is racked by white guilt and armed with just enough knowledge about important issues to fail to realize he's making an ass of himself when he talks about them. He wants medications to solve his problems.

I remember audiences being frustrated with the AJ scenes in these final few episodes—people wanted more whackings, less family melodrama. But I think they actually hold up really well in retrospect: between his psychiatrist and his college professors and, yes, his parents, AJ hasn't been given the tools to deal with the real world. His head has been filled with fluff and nonsense. He hasn't learned about responsibility or that the world is not a fair place. He knows nothing of foreign policy, content to let NPR and a lecturer educate him on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He mopes around at home, pontificating about the possibility that the U.S. will bomb Iran.

AJ was a pathetic, annoying, miserable mess of a character. He was also a pretty fair take on a large subset of America's twenty-somethings at the time.

Published under: TV Reviews