The Sopranos

8.6 / 10
58 min
Crime, Drama
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" gives "The Sopranos" a 9."
Written by on 17 July 2014.
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The Sopranos

Somewhere in the fall of 2011 there was no more escaping it. I had heard, seen and read so much about 'The Sopranos', especially during my studies of television in university. And still all I could think was “why would I want to watch a show about the Mafia?” But that’s because I could never have imagined that this show is so much more than just that. And so, in the fall of 2011, I realized I had made a terrible error in judgment and was introduced to one of television’s most beautiful presents.

The series tells us the story of Tony Soprano and his two families; his wife and kids on the one hand and his mob family on the other. The charismatic James Gandolfini (who died unfortunately in the beginning of 2013) plays an even so charismatic Tony Soprano. There is something about this character that sucks you right into this series, and doesn’t let go again.

The Sopranos is anything but a show about a mob boss. It’s a show about a man, with all his shortcomings, who has a hard time meeting the expectations his two families have of him and who just happens to be a mob boss. I’m not trying to belittle the mob element in the series at all by this, I am well aware that 'The Sopranos' would never have been such a hit if Tony was just a dentist. What I’m trying to say is that this show is more about the consequences of being a member of the mafia and how this drives a man to face his fears and self-image.
Tony starts seeing a shrink because he suffers from panic attacks. This is one of the strong suits of the show because it bridges the gap between what we see Tony doing and how he feels about it. During his visits to doctor Melfi we sometimes see the true nature of this man, and sometimes just the mask the mob boss wears. That makes him a very fascinating character.

The storylines are very well thought out and never get unrealistic. Its setting in a mafia environment ensues ruthless action as well as exciting intrigue. As a viewer you will start to love Tony and his family and friends, but also hate them, pity them, cheer them on as they get rid of their adversaries and maybe even cry when they draw the short straw themselves. Because in the end these characters turn out to be people just like you and me. Well, apart from the fact that you and me are not mobsters.

HBO heralded a new era of television shows with 'The Sopranos'. Before that the ideology of tv channels had always been to play it safe in order to attract as many viewers as possible and thereby satisfying all the advertisers. And so they chose safe storytelling, with an immaculate hero as the protagonist and where good always triumphs over evil. The introduction of pay subscription networks changed the game completely, because it meant the end of the dependence on advertisers. This brought on more artistic and creative freedom for writers. And that’s how television’s first true anti-hero was born: Tony Soprano. This heavy-set, adulterous criminal did everything we had learned to be a taboo on television. Fine, he is as big a macho as his predecessors, but behind this façade is a man plagued by anxiety disorders. Without Tony Soprano there would have been no Dexter Morgan, Nucky Thompson or Walter White. And the viewer revelled in this new way of storytelling. Because the good no longer triumphed over evil, all of the sudden the good was the evil or the evil was the good or actually, you couldn’t even distinguish the good from the evil anymore. 'The Sopranos' brings this struggle to live masterfully. The series itself is a beautiful present for the tv enthusiast, but as a trailblazer for this new television era it has also given us so many more wonderful shows as a gift.
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