Why The Sopranos' Biggest Success Couldn't Be Repeated
The Sopranos revolutionized television and the gangster genre, but as much as they may try, future shows will never quite replicate their original success.
Many TV shows have tried, but none have been able to quite replicate the cultural impact of David Chase's HBO drama The Sopranos. The gangster drama, an online hit, offers a unique take on the gangster trope by examining the psychological impact of a life of crime on society. "The Sopranos," starring James Gandolfini as underworld therapist Tony Soprano, both reinvigorated and finalized the crime genre, but it also proved to be A cultural turning point for television.
It is fair to say that without The Sopranos, a show like Mad Men or Breaking Bad would not exist, as it redefined the medium for decades to come. For example, "Mad Men" creator Matthew Weiner is credited with writing some of the most critically acclaimed episodes of The Sopranos, such as Season 6, Episode 18 " Kennedy and Heidi," in which Tony Soprano kills Christopher. In addition to providing a valuable training ground for would-be showrunners, The Sopranos countered common misconceptions about TV protagonists in America.
Why The Sopranos Was Perfectly Timed
As a subscription service, HBO is less subject to the strict restrictions on sex, violence, and profanity than other web series. as a cruel and antisocial person A gangster who disrespects women, Tony Soprano embodies everything network television stands against. Since the 1970s, American filmmakers such as Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola have explored morally complex and unlikable characters, but until the 1990s TV didn't catch up until Tony Soprano came on screen. The Sopranos benefited from "The Godfather," "Raging Bull," "Goodfellas," and films like it—a more cinematic approach that quickly established HBO's reputation as an exceptional show.
While HBO is now culturally synonymous with prestige television, the network was best known for its comedy productions in the 1990s. Shows like The Larry Sanders Show and Mr. Bob and David Show, both starring Bob Odenkirk, who would go on to star in Better Call Saul, another show that wouldn't exist without The Sopranos. The network aired just one other series before The Sopranos premiered in 1999. Oz is a prison drama that also focuses on characters from network TV shows who will be antagonists rather than protagonists. This shift in perspective will have profound consequences for the future of American television.
The Sopranos' Formula Still Works (It's Just Not As Surprising)
The Sopranos The secret sauce is how it humanizes these characters who are usually two-dimensional villains elsewhere on television. David Chase, his writers and the unparalleled cast of "The Sopranos" prove that characters don't have to be "good guys" to be compelling. In fact, stories can be more engaging if they challenge their audience by showing them characters they shouldn't root for. In the two decades since The Sopranos ended, this formula has been defining television. Matthew Weiner's Mad Men focuses on Don Draper, a charismatic but deeply flawed and unpleasant ad man.
Meanwhile, Vince Gilligan's Breaking Bad tells the story of a terminally ill chemistry teacher who becomes a drug lord in order to support his family. Audiences don't necessarily sympathize with Breaking Bad's Walter White, but the character is so human and well drawn that it's often hard not to. While these are great shows, they don't have the rush of newness that greeted The Sopranos' more complex characters when it debuted in 1999. The Sopranos went on to pave the way for multiple other stories of moral corruption and the human condition, and will forever remain the show's distinction popularized such a successful formula.