Is there any series finale that measures up to the series itself? I would argue that last night's final episode of The Sopranos did just that.
Just as The Godfather novel/movies were as much about the World War II post-immigrant generation as they were about the Mafia, the HBO series dealt with everyday experiences of baby boomers in the context of a crime family. The lead characters in The Sopranos were probably meant to be a little older than the actors who portrayed them (what couple named their daughter "Meadow" in 1982?), as the show explored what lives were like for fortysomethings in the 1990s -- from getting your kid into college to putting a parent into a home.
Using the Mafia to talk about real-life problems did not set The Sopranos apart. What made the series unique was how skillfully it was done. Last night's finale was a fitting example of such skill. Too busy to cook, the family meets for dinner at a family-favorite 50s diner. As with almost every show, it proceeded both on the level of a family show and an organized crime drama. As they rave about the onion rings, the audience is eyeballing every restaurant patron as a possible assassin or FBI agent. For a moment, the audience experiences what life must be like for a wiseguy. We were looking over our shoulders for the cops and rivals.