The Sopranos is an American television drama series created by David Chase that revolves around the New Jersey-based Italian-American mobster Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) and the difficulties he faces as he tries to balance the conflicting requirements of his home life and the criminal organization he heads. The series also features Tony’s family members and Mafia associates in prominent roles and storylines, most notably his wife Carmela (Edie Falco) and cousin and protégé Christopher Moltisanti (Michael Imperioli). A central theme is his professional relationship with his psychiatrist, Dr. Jennifer Melfi (Lorraine Bracco).
The series premiered on the premium cable network HBO in the United States on January 10, 1999, and ended its original run of six seasons and 86 episodes on June 10, 2007. The series then went through syndication and has been broadcast on A&E in the United States and internationally. The Sopranos was produced by HBO, Chase Films and Brad Grey Television. It was primarily filmed at Silvercup Studios, New York City and on location in New Jersey. The executive producers throughout the show’s run were Chase, Brad Grey, Robin Green, Mitchell Burgess, Ilene S. Landress, Terence Winter, and Matthew Weiner. Chase also served as showrunner and head writer.
The Sopranos, in its time was considered the most financially successful series in the history of cable television, and has been called the greatest television series of all time.
The series is noted for its high level of quality in every aspect of production and is particularly recognized for its writing, its cinematic style, and the performances of its lead actors. The show is credited with bringing a greater level of artistry to the television medium and paving the way for many successful drama series that followed. It also won a multitude of awards, including twenty-one Emmys and five Golden Globes.
A staple of 2000s American popular culture, the series has been the subject of much critical analysis, controversy, and parody, and has spawned books, a video game, high-charting soundtrack albums, and a large amount of assorted merchandise.
Several members of the show’s cast and crew who were previously largely unknown to the public have had successful careers after The Sopranos.
PLOT SUMMARY (Season 1)
The series begins with Tony Soprano collapsing after suffering a panic attack. This prompts him to begin therapy with Dr. Jennifer Melfi. Gradually, the storyline reveals details of Tony’s upbringing, with his father’s influence looming large on his development as a gangster, but more so that Tony’s mother, Livia, was vengeful and possibly personality-disordered. His complicated relationship with his wife Carmela is also explored, as well as her feelings regarding her husband’s cosa nostra ties. Meadow and Anthony Jr., Tony’s children gain increasing knowledge of their father’s mob dealings. Later, federal indictments are brought as a result of someone in his organization talking to the FBI and his own Uncle plots Tony’s death.
After ordering the execution of Brendan Filone and the mock execution of Chris Moltisanti, Tony’s Uncle Junior is installed as boss of the family (following the death of previous boss Jackie Aprile, Sr. from cancer), even though Tony actually controls most things from behind the scenes. Furious at Junior’s plan to have him killed, Tony responds to the attempt on his life with a violent reprisal and confronts his mother for her role in plotting his downfall. She has a psychologically triggered pseudo-stroke and Junior is arrested by the FBI on non-related charges.
Learn more about the concepts, principles and symbolism behind the subliminals found in this television series: