Although I wasn’t old enough to appreciate Daniel Chase’s hit mob-drama when it released back in January of 1999, I have seen the Sopranos now twice, and am here to tell you why it is nothing short of excellence from beginning to end. Let us start with the premise: up until this point mob movies have been driven by crime, sex, and some good Italian food that we’ve all come to love in classics like “Goodfellas” and “Scarface.” The Sopranos is no stranger to themes like these, so what makes this story stick out from the rest? Over the series 6 season runtime we get to see the development of one of the greatest characters in TV’s history in Tony Soprano. Many other mob stories fail to address the other side of their characters, and the Sopranos allows us to see inside the mental health, family issues, and overall daily problems of someone in Tony Sopranos position.
Not only is Tony Soprano a villain we can’t help but root for, so are his band of brothers that he represents in south Jersey. Characters like Christopher Multisanti, Paulie “Wallnuts” Gualtieri, and Silvio Dante are just a few of the pieces that come together that make their performances so believable. Our main characters ARE bad guys, they kill, steal, and hold morals that would have a hard time being put up on a TV screen today. The difference here is we get to see the deeper side to these characters, that they possess empathy and good values that make fans at home root so hard for them to change their ways. This is something I find consistent throughout the show, that although they are constantly making poor decisions, we know they are human just like us and this is shown the best through Tony’s therapy sessions.
Tony Soprano, head of the south jersey crime family, is depressed. A spin on classic mob story that works so well to make Tony feel real, and we really get to see his inner thoughts throughout the show. Whether it’s his inability to accept his mother’s distaste for him, or the panic attacks that haunt him the entire show, it’s within this space that The Sopranos make Tony Soprano the most vulnerable he could be. I could talk about this show forever, but the one thing that I must address before ending this is Tony Sopranos influence today. If you take anything away from The Sopranos, you must try to see the impact the show has placed on some of our favorite characters. When James Gandolfini passed a few years ago, Bryan Cranston, arguably one of the greatest tv characters of all time said this, “I'm saddened by James Gandolfini's passing. He was a great talent & I owe him. Quite simply, without Tony Soprano there is no Walter White.”