I love AJ too, and I found Meadow pretty sympathetic. Great article, Matthew. I focused more on AJ’s growing disillusionment with the world, and his coming to terms with his own privilege. The scene where his friends attack and use slurs against the African student is what drives him to his suicide attempt. His therapy session revolves around his conflicting feelings about his friends being terrible, racist people, and yet the same people who reached out to him, hung out with him, and temporarily pulled him out of depression. Both are true: they’re the next generation mob, willing to use violence and brutality to assert their power, and they’re also his friends, the people he grew up with his whole life.
What strikes out to me is that neither Meadow nor AJ are happy throughout the whole show, despite all their privilege. They’re both reliant on their parents for a very long time, and their link to Tony and the mafia leads to the lack of ability to make any sustainable relationships. Noah and Blanca just can’t see themselves marrying into the mafia, as much as Tony tried to shelter them away from it.
I thought Meadow threaded the needle of nuance pretty well. She is devoting a large part of her time and career to fighting for civil liberties and in the legal defense fund, which may be a product of making peace with her white guilt and privilege. I agree that they should certainly have come to peace with their complicity a long time ago. It would have saved them significant mental anguish, and it’s a thing in human nature, liberals and conservative, that we all fail to see our complicity in the very systems we fail against. I’m a devoted Christian, but someone close to me told me that everyone who told him that they shouldn’t have sex before marriage have had sex before marriage. There’s always going to be a division between who we are and who we want to be, and until we reach that ideal, we moralize.