This was followed by a feature a few days later in that paper on "How to Fix the Sopranos" that was embarrassing even by Post standards (The Post, after all, is so mob-obsessed that when John Gotti died last spring they ran 14 pages of fawning coverage that treated this lifelong criminal as some kind of hero; they also employ Gotti's daughter Victoria as a society columnist.).
Virtually all of the letters took on a virulently misogynistic tone, accusing the show of "turning girly" by focusing too much on family and romantic relationships and not enough on mob brutality. Many of them even proposed sickening, violent solutions for getting rid of undesirable (usually female) characters, like "kill all the women," and "Carmella's whining too much - whack her!"
In reality, "Sopranos" fans got spoiled. They experienced three years of one of the greatest shows in the history of television, and thus expect abject brilliance out of every single episode. Therefore they leave David Chase with next to no margin for error; what they forget is that the show often sets up scenarios that pay off five or six episodes later.
The underlying point of "The Sopranos," since episode 1, has been the juxtaposition between Tony Soprano's family, and his "family." And even the most bloodthirsty Soprano-watcher would be hard-pressed to deny that the Tony-Carmella relationship has been central to the show all along.
On HBO's other super-prestigious dramatic series, "Six Feet Under," the most prominent storyline of last season concerned the show's primary couple (Nate and Brenda) keeping major secrets from one another throughout the entire year - Brenda that she'd had sex with numerous strangers, and Nate that he'd fathered a child by another woman.
Coincidentally or not, "Sopranos" elected to go the same route in Season 4 with Tony and Carmella. Their tensions from the previous three seasons (over his cheating, her guilt, money, and other things) were all accentuated and expanded upon throughout the year, exacerbated by the mutual but never-consummated flirtation between Carmella and Tony's Italian henchman Furio. The two also clashed over family estate planning, Tony's plans to buy a horse and later a beach house, as well as Meadow's study-abroad plans.
This tension was best addressed in the brilliantly understated fourth episode, titled "The Weight." Ostensibly about New York underboss Johnny Sack and his quest for revenge against Ralphie for joking about Johnny's overweight wife, the episode ended with Tony and Carmella in bed and a CD of Furio's playing from another room - and Carmella was visibly disinterested in sex with Tony, comparing him unfavorably to the younger, better looking and, yes, thinner Furio. And as if to make the audience aware of Carmella's predicament, the increasingly out-of-shape Tony was shown with his shirt off more in Season 4 than in the previous three years combined.