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 6)
At the beginning of the sixth season, Tony is shot by the now senile and confused Uncle Junior. Rendered comatose, Tony dreams he is a salesman on a business trip, where he mistakenly exchanges his briefcase and identification with a man named Kevin Finnerty. Tony’s recovery from the shooting changes his outlook, and he tries to mend his ways. However, he is faced with more problems in his business life.
Once out of the hospital, Johnny Sack’s daughter gets married and the Soprano family attends. Once there Tony is shown very exhausted and through security must take off his shoes. In the process he collapses to the ground, but is not hurt. Before the wedding Johnny Sack is approved to leave prison for six hours to see his daughter get married and that he has to pay for the metal detectors and the presence of the U.S. marshals at the event. As his daughter is about to drive away the SUV that was escorting Johnny to the wedding blocks the car from leaving and an altercation begins in the driveway. In a moment of weakness and despair Johnny Sack cries as he is put back into handcuffs and driven back to prison, greatly diminishing the respect his crew and Tony’s crew have for him.
Vito Spatafore is outed as a homosexual after running into a friend at a New York night club. The rumor spreads quickly, and once word gets to Meadow that everyone else knows, she tells Tony and Carmela about the incident between Finn and Vito with the security guard. Finn then has to sit in front of Tony’s entire crew and tell them what happened with the guard, solidifying their thoughts on Vito’s sexuality. Tony is urged to deal with the problem by Phil Leotardo, now acting boss of New York with Johnny Sack in prison. Once Vito is outed, he runs away from the city and hides out in a New Hampshire town where he claims to be writing a book and meets with the locals. Vito also starts a romantic relationship with a male cook at a local diner. Eventually, Vito returns to New Jersey and asks Tony to allow him to return to work, albeit in Atlantic City. He continues to maintain that he is not a homosexual. Tony mulls over the decision to let him work, as well as whether to let him live. When Tony fails to act, Phil intervenes and kills Spatafore. When one of the members of the New York family, Fat Dom Gamiello, pays a visit to the Jersey office and won’t stop making jokes about Vito and his death, the two members of Tony’s crime family who are present kill Fat Dom out of anger at the disrespect he has shown. Once more, it appears that the families are on the verge of all-out war.
During the first half of the season Chris and Carmine head to Los Angeles to try to sign Ben Kingsley for a movie they are trying to make called Cleaver, which is basically a mix of The Godfather and Saw. But Kingsley passes on the picture. While in Los Angeles Chris goes back to using cocaine for a short period of time.
Tony considers killing several of his associates for relatively minor infractions. Christopher is unable to leave the mob, deflecting his problems by relapsing into drug addiction and kills his friend from Narcotics Anonymous, J. T. Dolan. He is then seriously injured in a car accident while driving under the influence of narcotics. Tony, the sole passenger, is not badly hurt, and suffocates Christopher to death. A.J. is dumped by his fiancée and slips into depression, culminating in a failed suicide attempt in the backyard pool. Dr. Melfi is convinced by friends that Tony is making no progress and may even be using talking therapy for his own sociopathic benefit. She drops him as a patient.
Johnny Sack dies from lung cancer while imprisoned, and Leotardo then consolidates his position in the Lupertazzi family by having his rivals for the leadership killed. Phil then officially takes over, igniting a resumption of the past feud with Tony and refusing to compromise with Tony on a garbage deal. When Tony assaults a Lupertazzi soldier for harassing Meadow while she is on a date, Phil decides it’s time to decapitate the Soprano crew. He orders the executions of Bobby Baccalieri, who is shot to death; Silvio, who ends up comatose; and Tony, who goes into hiding. A deal is brokered whereby the rest of the Lupertazzi family agrees to ignore the order to kill Tony, giving Tony an opportunity to go after Phil. An FBI agent informs Tony of Phil’s location, allowing Tony to have him killed. Tony suspects that Carlo, a capo from New Jersey, has become an informant in an attempt to help out his son, who has recently been caught for dealing ecstasy. Tony meets with his lawyer, who informs him that subpoenas are being given to New Jersey and New York crews alike. Sometime after Phil’s death and a meeting with everyone, Tony, Carmela, and AJ meet for dinner, while the Journey song “Don’t Stop Believin'” plays in the background. At this time, several individuals become apparent that seem out of place for the venue. Three individuals enter and are specifically focused upon during entry. Meadow is shown coming to the dinner late and crossing the street as the rest of the family starts to eat an appetizer. An individual that had been previously shown at the counter specifically taking notice of Tony, is shown entering the restroom, the door of which is directly facing, (and approximately 90 degrees to), the table at which Tony and his family are sitting. As Meadow walks up to the door, the screen goes to Tony. The diner door opens with a bell ringing, Tony looks up and the show smash cuts to black and after a few seconds the credits roll in silence, leaving his and his family’s fate a mystery.
Chase’s decision to end the last episode abruptly with just a black screen was controversial. While Chase has insisted that it was not his intention to stir controversy, the ambiguity over the ending and question of whether Tony was murdered has continued for years after the finale’s original broadcast and has spawned numerous websites devoted to finding out his true intention.
Learn more about the concepts, principles and symbolism behind the subliminals found in this television series: