a painting of a barn and a tree with text saying "Why The Sopranos is the greatest show ever."

Why The Sopranos is the Best TV Show of All Time

tony, silvio, and paulie are on a boat with their friend, Big Puss.
Season 2, Episode 13, "Funhouse"

The Sopranos is in the eye of the beholder, like our own little “Korshach” Test. As for me, digesting and analyzing the show involves being on a neverending rewatch of sorts. And through this neverending Sopranos journey, I find myself better able to process certain emotions and discuss subjects I may otherwise be too timid to address. Sometimes this takes the form of writing blog posts on episodes, characters, or themes. Other times, making Sopranos memes, gifs, crossword puzzles and quizzes does the trick. On that note, and speaking of writing, here’s a little more detail on why The Sopranos is the greatest show ever.

The Greatest Characters Ever

Carmela has her face in her hands crying while tony stands in the background behind her.
Season 4, Episode 13, "Whitecaps"

First, The Sopranos is the greatest show ever because of the characters. Their lives are ugly, messy, and beautiful all at once. In other words, to one degree or another, they’re just like us! Instead of a clear line dividing good and evil, so much rests in that murky grey area. I guess The Kinks were onto something with “Living on a thin line, tell me now, what are we supposed to do?

Ironically, it’s because of the boundaries these wise guys draw—however thin—that I’m able to feel a human connection to them. There are certain lines most characters won’t cross, such as not targeting “civilians.” Or as Paulie refers to them, the “flag-salutin’ motherf*ckers!” Of course, there are exceptions, with civilians occasionally becoming collateral damage. For example, when Italian assassins (the “zips”) fly to Jersey to kill Phil Leotardo, they mistakenly kill his goomar and her father. All in all, it’s safe to say that the characters bring out every emotion in me. Sometimes they make me laugh, sometimes they make me cry, and they always make me think. 

The Sopranos is Timeless

tony soprano has his back turned and is walking back up the driveway.
Season 1, Episode 1, :"Pilot"

Besides the characters,  The Sopranos is the greatest show ever because of its timelessness. Whether you’ve been watching since 1999 or just recently discovered The Sopranos, if you hear Tony’s conversations with Dr. Melfi without any other context, you could easily think it’s 2022. Though The Sopranos ended in 2007, certain ideas and concepts explored on the show are even more relevant today. 

For example, when Dr. Melfi tells Tony “Young people today are bombarded with so much information, so nuch input of every kind,” I laugh and think to myself, “If she only knew what was coming!”

The Sopranos Episodes

Tony and Meadow Soprano walking outside while on their college tour
Season 1, Episode 5, "College"

Additionally, The Sopranos is the greatest show ever because of the brilliance contained in each episode. Just like the characters, every episode has a unique way of bringing out the full spectrum of emotions within me. Not surprisingly, the further along we are in the series, the more likely it is for those emotions to be on the heavier side.

With that said, sometimes I’m just craving a nice dose of Sopranos comfort food. Every Sopranos fan has their own unique recipe, and mine includes episodes like College, Boca, Toodle-F*cking-Oo, The Happy Wanderer, Full Leather Jacket, To Save Us All From Satan’s Power, and some others.

In addition to those “comfort food” episodes, other favorites are on the deeper side, like “Whoever Did This,” and in particular, the extraordinary performance by Joey Pants as Ralph Cifaretto. If you’re interested, you can read more thoughts on “Whoever Did This” here.

Ralph is sitting at his son's hospital bed watching him.
Season 4, Episode 9, "Whoever Did This"

The Sopranos Quotes

john schwinn is explaining physics to tony, paulie, and the rapper in the hospital.
S6, E4, "The Fleshy Part of the Thigh"

But wait, I thought The Sopranos was about the mafia. What’s this Schrödinger equation nonsense? Is this the f*ckin’ UN now? (Johnny Sack is wondering). Nope, we’re in the right place: Tony is out of his coma and has just met a kind rocket scientist named John Schwinn. 

In other words, if you’d told me before I ever watched The Sopranos that my favorite quote would involve quantum mechanics, I would’ve been skeptical. But sure enough, it’s incredibly powerful in making me pause and think about the big picture of who we are and how we’re related to the larger universe.

"Schrödinger's equation. 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."
John Schwinn, the physicist, is telling Tony, Paulie, and another hospital patient about physics and how everything is connected.
-John Schwinn
The Fleshy Part of The Thigh (S6, E4)

The Sopranos Themes

tony soprano is sitting out back behind uncle pat's farm smoking a cigar in solitude.
Season 5, Episode 10, "Cold Cuts"

In the same vein, The Sopranos is the greatest show ever because it forces us to consider that complicated question of “Who am I?” Rewatching The Sopranos for me is like a continued journey and search for meaning that (fortunately) doesn’t depend on the chaotic nature of today’s world. And just as my feelings on various characters can change over time, so too do my feelings on identity.

tony soprano is asking who he is.
Season 6, Episode 2, "Join The Club"

Above all, when it comes to identity, it’s not a simple linear path. When you take into account the chaotic nature of life and throw in a nice dose of imposter syndrome, the question of “Who am I? Where Am I going?” is hardly an easy one. It’s on our best days that we feel like imposters, while we hope with all our might that we’re not the person from our worst days. In more blunt terms, sometimes it feels like we “got the world by the balls but can’t stop feeling like a f**king loser.” That’s why Tony’s struggles resonate with so many of us. It’s also why many Sopranos fans often connect so naturally, even if we may have very little else in common. In any case, it’s important to work through these messy feelings, otherwise that beast in your mind will only continue to grow (like “The Beast in Me“)!

"When we're not constantly having to put out fires, we can really delve into who you are and what you're really after in your very brief time on this Earth."

The Sopranos Soundtrack

Season 6, Episode 14, "Stage 5"

What’s more, 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 feelings of mine that are simply too hard to put into words. I mean, how could we possibly describe those goosebumps and that shiver racing down your spine when Phil says “No more, Butchie. No more of this”? Not to mention Tony and Christopher’s solemn hug at Caitlin’s christening. Evidently Chickentown by John Cooper Clarke does a pretty good job, in my opinion.

The Sopranos Ending

tony soprano and dwight harris are sitting in the car near an airport on a cold and snowy night.
The Sopranos Series Finale, "Made in America"

Finally, The Sopranos series finale always leaves me with questions that I know will forever remain unanswered. Bringing it back to the indefinite Sopranos rewatch concept, it’s part of an everlasting search for my own answers on life, death, closure, or lack thereof. And just as there’s no one correct interpretation of “Made in America,” there’s no one-size-fits-all answer on life, death, or all of the challenges and milestones in between. We all have our unique blueprint and journey, and The Sopranos is a wonderful companion to come along for the ride. Speaking of which, “Can you believe after all this, she still wants to go back on that ride?” Anyway, enough about me. What makes The Sopranos so special to you? Let’s connect. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Janice Soprano and her family are at the festival of St. Elzear
Season 6, Episode 9, "The Ride"

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