Sopranos Blueprint

The Sopranos The Greatest Show Ever

Why The Sopranos is the Greatest Show Ever

Tony Soprano, Paulie Walnuts, and Silvio Dante sitting outsider Satriales on a sunny day.
Season 1, Episode 3, "Denial, Anger, Acceptance"

The Sopranos Blueprint: “What the f**k was that?” (Do I sound like someone we know?) It’s about anything and everything related to the classic HBO series, “The Sopranos.” For me, one component of digesting the show and processing my feelings is being on an indefinite re-watch. The other part is writing about it through both articles and Sopranos-themed quizzes

Little Carmine telling the New York and New Jersey heads of the family that a pint of blood costs more than a gallon of gold.
Season 6, Episode 12, "Kaisha"

In any case, that takes me here. I’m writing to talk about why I adore The Sopranos. The truth is, I find myself returning to a few main themes. Here’s why The Sopranos is the greatest show ever:

The Greatest Characters Ever Are In The Sopranos.

Tony talking about Gary Cooper
The Sopranos, S.1, E.1, "Pilot"

Firstly, what can I say about The Sopranos characters? We love to hate them, hate to love them, and feel just about everything in between. In many ways, they’re just like us. Love, loyalty, debt, mental health, family dysfunction, and everything else under the sun. Unless you’re in season 6, in which case you’ll find a much darker tint. 

Svetlana talking to Tony Soprano
The Sopranos, S.4, E.10, "The Strong, Silent Type"

Secondly, whether you watched it from the beginning or discovered it yesterday, The Sopranos characters are a manifestation of humanity in all of its forms. Their lives are ugly, messy, and simultaneously beautiful. Instead of a clear line in the sand dividing good and evil, so much lies just below the surface in that murky grey area.

The boss and capos of the DiMeo crew are standing outside of Satriales while Big Pussy Bonpensiero walks inside.
Season 2, Episode 11, "House Arrest"

At the end of the day, while most of The Sopranos characters are corrupt to one extent or another, we know that at least there are rules. They all have moments of clarity and lines they won’t cross.

Though, as with many things, good and evil flow along a spectrum. I think it’s safe to say we could place the Richie Apriles and the Ralph Cifarettos near one end, but where do the others go? In terms of the made guys, I’d place Bobby Bacalla closer to the other side, with Tony, Sil, and Paulie hanging out at midfield.

The Sopranos Quotes Are Priceless...

Richie Aprile is talking to Tony Soprano.
Season 2, Episode 8, "Full Leather Jacket"

Similarly, I found that many quotes, idiosyncrasies, and mannerisms of certain characters made them even more unique. Sometimes they made you laugh, sometimes they made you cry, but they always made you think. Here are just a few examples:

“This is gonna sound stupid, but I saw at one point that our mothers are … bus drivers. No, they are the bus. See, they’re the vehicle that gets us here. They drop us off and go on their way. They continue on their journey. And the problem is that we keep tryin’ to get back on the bus, instead of just lettin’ it go.” 
Paulie Walnuts talking to Christopher Moltisanti in the hospital in Season 2, Episode 9, "From Where to Eternity."
S.2, E.9, "From Where to Eternity"
"That's different for everybody. You add up all your mortal sins and multiply that number by 50. Then you add up all your venial sins and multiply that by 25. You add that together and that's your sentence. I figure I'm gonna have to do 6,000 years before I get accepted into heaven and 6,000 years is nothin' in eternity terms. I can do that standing on my head. It's like a couple of days here."
John Schwinn, the physicist, is telling Tony, Paulie, and another hospital patient about physics and how everything is connected.
S.6, E.4, "The Fleshy Part of the Thigh"

The Sopranos Themes Are Also The Greatest

Big Pussy Bonpensiero on the boat with Tony, Paulie, and Silvio before they shoot him.
The Sopranos, S.2, E.13, "Fun House"

Next, speaking of physics, nowhere are the competing forces of good and evil more connected than on The Sopranos. It’s not always obvious which is which, whether on the show or in our own lives. For example, it is often on our best days that we feel like impostors and don’t give ourselves enough credit, while we also hope with all our might that we’re not the person from our worst days.

"It's... it's physics. Schrödinger's equation. The boxers, you, me... we're all part of the same quantum field ... Well, think of the two boxers as ocean waves or currents of air. Two tornadoes, say. They appear to be two things, right? Two separate things? But they're not. The tornadoes are just wind, the wind stirred up in different directions. The fact is, nothing is separate. Everything is connected."
Carmela is talking to Vic, the guy painting and decorating her home.
Two of Carmela's love interests.

Also at the core of my fascination is a bizarre sense of nostalgia: The Sopranos premiered during the “growing pains” phase of my life, otherwise known as my transition from an oblivious elementary school student into an awkward, only slightly less oblivious preteen/teenager.

To be sure, I could write multiple blog posts about the blatant display of bigotry, misogyny, and homophobia displayed throughout the series, but I think that kind of goes without saying. Rather than reinvent the wheel, I’ll post some spot-on language I found in another article:

Phil Leotardo is talking to his crew about scraps in his scrapbook.
S.6, E.20, "The Blue Comet""
"Its genius lies in its sly ability to trick its viewers into watching a series that, under its tough guy guise, is really a careful consideration of inherited trauma, mental illness, toxic masculinity, and motherhood. Women are an intrinsic part of this story — from Tony’s fearsome wife Carmela (Edie Falco) to the looming shadow of his mother, Livia (Nancy Marchand), even several seasons after her death."
-Annie Cohen

The Sopranos Music

Tony is driving his car while listening to Dirty Work by Steely Dan.
S3, E1, "Mr. Ruggiero's Neighborhood"

Furthermore, the brilliant mix of themes and characters on The Sopranos is accompanied by an equally brilliant musical selection. Featuring nearly every musical genre, the music often conveys the feelings that are simply too hard to put into words.

The Sopranos Ending

Sopranos Made in America Cat Staring At The Wall
S.6, E.21, "Made in America"

Above all, the finale blackout (and really season 6 as a whole) left me with so many questions that will forever be left unanswered. I think my re-watching is a way for me to grasp a little bit more of the characters and my own answers. Though at a certain point, you come to the realization that you’re not supposed to figure it out, and that’s true for many Sopranos situations.

tony soprano and dwight harris are sitting in the car near an airport on a cold and snowy night.
S6, E21, "Made in America"

Finally, as if to add heartbreaking real life insult to television show injury, James Gandolfini died of a heart attack on June 19, 2013, in Italy of all places. That hit me particularly hard, especially given the eerie similarity to maladies he had suffered on the show. It’s almost too real, in a warped, Sopranos-like fashion. But to leave on a slightly higher note, let’s chat about The Sopranos! Find me on social media, subscribe to my blog, and check out the Sopranos Wall of Memes & dozens of Sopranos quizzes!

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