Break out the baked ziti and gabagool because The Sopranos are heading to the big (and small) screen once again in David Chase‘s The Many Saints of Newark.
First gracing television in 1999, The Sopranos made a bold impression on viewers during its HBO run and eventual 2007 wrap-up that left viewers with mixed feelings and Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” stuck on repeat in their heads. Taking the mob drama genre and spinning it on its head, The Sopranos has become a benchmark by which most other prestige TV dramas are compared to.
Whether you’re an old fan or a yet-to-be-christened binger of the now-classic series, here are a few perfect reasons to stream The Sopranos right now.
A Complicated Antihero
The late great James Gandolfini brought so many layers to Tony Soprano, due in part to Chase and the rest of the writing team’s work, but also due in part to himself. Gandolfini’s embodiment of Tony makes him both one of TV’s most recognizable antiheroes and iconic mob genre characters. As a “made man” dealing with panic attacks, familial discord, and mafia politics, Gandolfini’s performance ranges from vulnerable father and husband to lethal mob boss in the blink of an eye. For anyone who loves the Marty Byrdes and Walter Whites of recent years, Gandolfini’s turn as Tony is essential viewing for the antihero enthusiast.
The Psychology of it All
While Tony is synonymous with mafia pop culture just as Al Pacino‘s Michael Corleone, there’s only one who could sit face-to-face with Lorraine Bracco‘s Dr. Melfi and compel us to keep tuning in. Before The Sopranos, figures like Tony Soprano were never portrayed in such a vulnerable way. When the show kicks off, one of the primary conflicts is Tony’s increasing panic episodes. Sure, he could be ruthless, but the double meaning behind Tony and Dr. Melfi’s conversations always conveyed a sense that he didn’t just lock memories or bad moments away. One-on-one sessions between a psychiatrist and their patient have never been more riveting.
Refresh Your Memory
In case you’re looking to delve into The Many Saints of Newark, this series should still be viewed beforehand. Despite being a prequel entry, much of the film’s characters are heavily discussed or even appear in the original show. Without prior knowledge about Tony and his family’s history, particularly with Christopher Moltisanti’s (Michael Imperioli) father, Dickie (played by Alessandro Nivola in the film), the film isn’t likely to have the same emotional impact. Plus, familiarizing yourself with Tony in the series is sure to make Michael Gandolfini‘s portrayal of the character his father originated even more shocking.
Breaking the Norm
The Soprano family’s lifestyle may include some of the not-so-flattering mob stereotypes ranging from high-end homes and vehicles to violent run-ins with associates, but have you ever seen a boss like Tony bring his daughter to soccer practice in a show or movie? Or dive into a pool to save his suicidal son? What about discussing his uncle’s bedroom activities? There are plenty of classic elements to embrace while The Sopranos breaks the mold on what it means to be a mafia leader.
Famous Guest Stars
The Sopranos may have been a stepping stone for some young and upcoming stars like Lin-Manuel Miranda and Lady Gaga, but it was also a platform for well-established performers, some of whom even played themselves, including Sir Ben Kingsley, Lauren Bacall, and Jon Favreau. The surprising lineup — which also features Frankie Valli and Steve Buscemi — is just one of the many reasons to revisit the series.
HBO is a prime spot for prestige TV, so why wouldn’t you want to check out one of the original “it” drama series from the premium cable network? Before Game of Thrones, Six Feet Under, True Blood, Deadwood, Boardwalk Empire, Big Little Lies, Watchmen, Mare of Easttown, and The White Lotus, among others, The Sopranos broke through. It was a watercooler show that thrived without the benefits of today’s streaming habits, and continues to live on through easily accessible means, so…. what are you waiting for?
The Sopranos, Streaming now, HBO Max