James Gandolfini changed television, and us



Charisma is measured in contradictions, and Tony Soprano possessed two sides of all of his qualities.

He was terrifying and vulnerable, relatable and unfathomable, cuddly and cold. He was a sociopath and a sympathetic victim of his environment. He was a bullying mob patriarch whose mama was the monster in all of his nightmares.

He was a master strategist in a fuzzy bathrobe yelling at his lazy kids. He killed men with his bare hands and ate his feelings straight out of the fridge.

He was, like many a parent or sibling or old friend, someone we kept hoping might change and kept never changing, someone we loved against our better judgment.

Or maybe we simply loved James Gandolfini, the actor who embodied the greatest television character of all time, who died at age 51 of an apparent heart attack on Wednesday while vacationing with his family in Italy.

It is a clich

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