Retrospective Review: “The Sopranos”

Senior Jenaro DelPrete looks back at David Chase’s “The Sopranos”.

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Ron Cogswell/Flickr

Senior Jenaro DelPrete says that ‘The Sopranos’ laid the groundwork for what television was to become in the 2000’s.

Jenaro DelPrete, Staff Writer/Social Media Manager

David Chase’s “The Sopranos” is a wild mobster opera that never holds up on pushing boundaries in television. This program ran for six seasons and it never once let me down. Stellar acting, amazing story writing, and groundbreaking filmmaking, “The Sopranos” changed everything from the moment it debuted. 

Tony Soprano, played by James Gandolfini, is a New Jersey mafia boss who suffers from panic attacks. Running a section of La Cosa Nostra is no small feat in this time of the late 90’s and early 2000’s, showcasing advances in criminal investigation and the underworld’s attempts to stack up against authorities. The show focuses on the division of families in the eyes of Tony, and how he balances his family from his life as The Godfather of his fellow mafioso.

And that’s what this program truly is: The Godfather of television.

Now, I don’t mean to compare one of the greatest films ever made to an HBO original, but it’s hard not to find the comparisons. The Corleone family is just as distraught and irregular as The Soprano family. 

Our cast of characters is no short of amazing performances. Edie Falco as Carmela Soprano is captivating. I am drawn into her struggles as a wife and as a mother as well as the facade she puts on for all of her friends and family. Michael Imperioli plays Christopher Moltasanti with precision, getting so deep into his character that I feel the things he faces: jealousy, drug addiction, even the loss he feels when tempted with violence. Every actor is perfectly casted. They fit in place and feel visceral and alive. 

Chase takes all creative liberty from the start, right until the very end. Dream segments that exist entirely out of Tony’s fevers, life revelations that come from therapy, talking fish, every little imagination from a young italian man’s mind is all there for us to see.

Despite being an incredibly harrowing and brutally violent television program, it feels calm.

Onscreen murders and fights, gunshot wounds and piano-wire choke-outs were all there, but it stayed apart from everything else. 

Both of Tony’s families were just plain and simple families, not too far off from my own, growing up as an Italian-American with long lines of cousins and uncles and people who I consider family that were merely immigrants from the same town in the old country. All the heinous things we see were not because of the family, they were simply business in the framework of the show.

One can judge these people purely based on the fact that they are, by law, violent criminals, but David Chase doesn’t make them feel like that. He can close out an episode with cliff hanging drama or he can just make it nice and relaxing with a family dinner or a fun date with one of our couples. It’s collected rather than unharmonious. 

“The Sopranos” laid the groundwork for what television was to become in the 2000’s.

We didn’t need another sitcom or just a reason to mindlessly sit down on the couch at 7 p.m. every Sunday night. This was high budget cinema quality programming coming directly to the viewer’s home. Chase foundationally changed how television was produced, this was finally something worthy of following up on every week. It was a conversation piece to friend groups and people at work, he fathered the anti-hero character arc that we see in every show since 2006 and every drama series on Netflix. Without this, we would not have “Breaking Bad” or “House of Cards” or even series such as “Ozark” or “The Wire.” 

This has become a little more of an overview or retrospective on a long lived HBO series rather than a review, but I can’t help it. This show has some of the best game changing moments in television. What Coppola did to cinema with “The Godfather,” so did Chase with “The Sopranos.”

Nothing was the same the moment this show aired, programming in TV has a lot to thank David Chase for. This series is a 10/10 Greenfields easily. I cannot give this show a lower score as every moment is captivating and shocking.

The show is currently unlocked on Hulu for a limited time due to COVID-19, happy streaming Chargers.

The views in this column do not necessarily reflect the views of the GENESIS staff. Reach Jenaro DelPrete at [email protected]