My study of what the term McMansions means included several newspaper references to the McMansion owned by the Soprano family on the HBO show. The Chicago Tribune story about my study included a large picture of the Sopranos eating a meal in their large dining room. Here is the house from the front:
Here is my look at the individual parts of the house to assess whether it contributes to the McMansion nature of the home.
1. The front exterior. I don’t know that the front looks that garish. There is certainly a large entryway with a double door and little vestibule but it has a two car garage, the proportions aren’t too bad, and roof has a smaller number of gables. Interestingly, the first season includes several long shots of the house from a distance (including prominent floodlights on the house/driveway) but later seasons include more views from the house down to the street and it appears much closer to the other homes and interlopers, like federal agents, pull into this shorter driveway multiple times. McMansion rating: looks like a big house but not too garish.
2. Foyer. McMansions often have expansive foyers. The Soprano’s house has two sets of doors, one to the outside and then another set into the room. It is a fairly big space with the main staircase to the house to the left when you enter. The foyer also has two columns which we see in later scenes have guns stored inside (they are locked up). McMansion rating: pretty big space.
3. Dining room. The family seems to be shown eating here more than they do in the eating area just off the kitchen. These meals include family members as well as “family” members. It is a big table but not too large. McMansion rating: not really.
4. Kitchen. The room is decorated in a more country style with lighter colored cabinets and floral patterns. The kitchen also has a large island that faces out to the foyer, eating area, and family room. The usable kitchen space itself is decently large but there is a lot of open space just beyond the large island. McMansion rating: no stainless steel, dark wood cabinets, or granite countertops but plenty big.
5. Family room. This room involves one large couch, some other seating, and a decent-sized TV (though nowhere near the common large flat-screen TVs of today). McMansion rating: big but not too ostentatious.
6. Garage. While it is only a two-car garage, it is quite deep. The show doesn’t have too many scenes in the garage but it seems to have lots of space. Also, it is pretty clean. McMansion rating: plenty big.
7. Upstairs. The kids’ rooms aren’t too large but the master suite is pretty big and also has an ensuite bathroom. A pretty dark room, particularly when Tony is depressed and the curtains are drawn. McMansion rating: plenty big.
8. Basement. This unfinished space is where Tony often carries out face-to-face work conversations while in the house. It is used for some storage and for laundry. It has some decent light next to the laundry area. It is a little strange that the family owns a pricey house and hasn’t finished off the basement. McMansion rating: nope.
9. Pool and pool house. There is a large in-ground pool in the backyard and some important scenes, including Tony’s fascination with ducks in Season One and AJ’s attempted suicide in Season 6, take place there. Tony seems to use the space more than anyone else; we never see Carmela out there alone and the kids aren’t playing in it regularly on the show. There is a pool house which acts as a theater space. This is a definite luxury point in the home. McMansion rating: large luxury items.
10. Backyard. This is pretty large as there is space for a pool, pool house, areas for Tony to hide cash, and it is a little hike to the back fence to interact with neighbors. McMansion rating: plenty of space.
Areas of the house not examined: the more formal living room (rarely used), the eating area just off the kitchen (a small table with four chairs fills the space), the bathrooms (not portrayed much).
Overall, this home fits the general McMansion definition of a large house. It is hard to estimate from watching on the screen but the home is at least 3,000 square feet. Unlike some other McMansions, it is on a large lot – a mobster can’t live in a large house where the next door neighbors are peering in the windows just a few feet away. The architecture and design doesn’t seem too jumbled though there is a clear emphasis on space. And, the home is clearly a reminder of the suburban nature of the Sopranos: the house is the setting for both “normal” suburban life as well as the unusual family life that made Tony’s purchase of the home all possible in the first place. Such a home is intended for the boss, whether it is Tony or John Sacrimoni, as the guys below the boss tend to live in denser suburban settings.
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