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Why The Sopranos Fans Are Confused By Barbara's Purpose On The Show

Few shows have had the impact on HBO that "The Sopranos" had (via Life). Partially inspired by crime epics like "Goodfellas" and "The Godfather," "The Sopranos" follows the violent life of mobster Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini). 

While family conflict is par for the course in the series, the tension ratchets up considerably when Tony's sister Janice Soprano (Aida Turturro) joins the main cast of "The Sopranos." Still, it's the third Soprano sibling, Barbara Soprano Giglione (Nicole Burdette/Danielle Di Vecchio), a character who only occasionally appears, whose place in the series is more puzzling. 

Barbara has never been a part of the family business and moved away from New Jersey to upstate New York some time before the events of the series. While she's more subdued than her impulsive siblings, her hard edges do occasionally show through when she butts heads with the family, particularly Janice. Though it's been over two decades since "The Sopranos" first premiered, fans still find themselves wondering what the purpose of Barbara was. 

Fans wonder why the third Soprano sibling exists

On the r/thesopranos subreddit, u/jdizzler432 speculated on the reasoning behind the character in a thread they created. "I've always thought it a little odd she was not introduced/discussed more," the user observed. "The Sopranos childhood was such a treasure chest of dysfunction and weirdness, it would be very insightful to learn more about the third sibling."

Though Barbara does appear in 15 episodes of "The Sopranos" (via IMDb), she is rarely given the sort of depth of exploration given to other members of the family, like Livia Soprano (Nancy Marchand) or Corrado "Junior" Soprano (Dominic Chianese). Naturally, this leads to many questions regarding the character and her place in the series. Some users seemed to think this dynamic was deliberate. "I always thought it added a layer of realism to the Soprano family that one sibling just moved away and turned out normal (as far as we know)," observed u/smeppel in the top comment.

Another top comment praised Barbara for removing herself from the toxic family. "There are people that say you are a product of an abusive childhood, there was no way out, you were doomed to perpetuate the cycle of violence, you couldn't help it etc. She proves the opposite," said u/clarencebobdickered. Many other users were more than happy to use the thread as an opportunity to quote the iconic dialogue of the show. Either way, while not everyone seemingly agrees about Barbara's purpose on "The Sopranos" or what the writers intended to say with her character, she certainly does provoke plenty of discussion among fans.