One of my screen-watching superpowers is that I never forget a face. It’s almost like my mind overlays a database of faces that pops up while I watch a TV show or movie (à la any spy/detective scene where they identify the suspect). Sometimes it’s at the tip of my mind, waiting for me to figure it out, like a sneeze; I know I’ve seen the person before, and until I remember, it plagues me! But I always figure it out.
The first time I saw Chris Diamantopoulos, he was playing a kiss-ass White House suit on 24. Just now I realized that he’s married to Becki Newton, who played Amanda in one of my favorite shows, Ugly Betty. Recently, he’s cropped up as a guest star on two of my television series revelations, which surprisingly share certain traits!
- Both feature successful, powerful, womanizing yet sympathizable protagonists.
- Both are involved with bloodshed.
- Both make money off of vulnerable people, and both are obsessed with said money.
- Both have a cult following, and have already come to an end (and I’m the latecomer).
These shows are: The Sopranos, and Nip/Tuck.
As we returned from our trip to New Jersey in May, Dave and I gravitated to The Sopranos as a way to live vicariously in a place that we both missed. Needless to say, we’ve been absorbed with the mafia drama for the better part of this summer. It’s a show that I’ve heard about for years but never took the plunge – I guess you can say it was in my “peripheral” cultural experience, but never at the forefront. However, I’m glad I waited until this summer to meet Tony Soprano. In Dave’s words, our shows somehow find us. They come to us in the exact time that we’re meant to start watching them. Anyways, The Sopranos are a family made up of Carmela (Edie Falco), Tony (James Gandolfini), Meadow (Jamie Lynn Sigler), and AJ (Robert Iler) but by no means is it a family show.
Tony is the new mob boss of New Jersey, and he and his crew of soldiers and captains make a living by extortion and general violent thievery. Shortly after his promotion, Tony begins to have recurring panic attacks, and starts going to a therapist, Dr. Melfi (Lorraine Braco). Some of the best scenes in the show occur in Melfi’s office – an unusual relationship forms between this notorious mafioso and a professional who’s trying to help him but ultimately failing. Sometimes I envision Tony as a case study in one of my books – general anxiety, anti-social, rage problems, paranoia, depression – he’s got them all, and yet he’s also the one in charge of a dozen or so men who will whack (and by that I mean kill) him if he missteps.
There’s a lot, and I mean a lot to mention with this show – the fabulous acting, comedic subtexts, well crafted and complex characters, all blend to make a very original show. What I found particularly eye-opening was how similar the Italian-American culture (as seen in the show) is to my family’s background. Aside from the obvious murder and mayhem, there’s a lot of the same camaraderie and the same value of family, loyalty, and sometimes even dysfunction. We’re nearing the final few episodes, and it’s been a bittersweet ride that has impacted my life!
The second show that Mr. Diamanopoulos happened to guest star in is Nip/Tuck. I’ve just finished the first season, and I must say it is equally as intense as The Sopranos, but in a different way. This show features two highly capable plastic surgeons in Miami. The duo couldn’t be more different – like House/Wilson, Sherlock/Watson, Sean McNamara (Dylan Walsh) is the pragmatic and sensitive introvert. His best friend, Christian (Julian McMahon) is the unabashed womanizing type who blazes through life with charisma oozing out of his pores. The two begin each session with “Tell me what you don’t like about yourself,” and often encounter some very disturbed folks who are trying to alter more than just their skin. There’s a lot of depth in their seemingly superficial career choice. They deal with their own families as well as come in contact with drug lords, sociopaths, and truly sad individuals dealing with a lot of trauma. I also really like their anesthesiologist, Liz (Roma Maffia…ironic), who’s dry wit and blunt attitude towards these gents is the perfect addition to their ying/yang duo. I’m not as emotionally attached to these characters yet, but it’s only been 15 episodes…I’ll get back to you when the other 85 are watched 🙂
So as you can see, a somewhat unknown guy with a long last name such as Chris has had a connection to several shows that I enjoy – 24, Ugly Betty, and most recently: The Sopranos, and Nip/Tuck! If only Kevin Bacon would step aside, I think Chris has some potential 😉
Have you seen any of these shows? Which are your favorite characters and plotlines? Well I’m off to watch Showtime’s newest release: The Big C (starring Laura Linney, Oliver Platt, Gabourey Sidibe). Happy watching =)