10 TV Shows That Are Clearly Inspired By The Sopranos - Bliteoc

10 TV Shows That Are Clearly Inspired By The Sopranos

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Not many stories can be accurately called revolutionary, but The Sopranos is one of them. David Chase’s magnum opus wasn’t the first TV series with character arcs, long-term plotting, or movie-level performances, but it was the first to gain the right mix of critical and popular attention to be a smash hit, leading to a new golden age of television.

The Sopranos paved the way for what’s become known as prestige TV. Even the programs that don’t baldly imitate the classic series follow a similar mold: the anti-hero protagonist, the serialized drama, the trigger-happy kill count. These shows are more obviously following the path set forth by The Sopranos.

10 The Americans Similarly Uses Genre To Explore Marriage And Suburbia

In the same way that The Sopranos is much more than just a gangster show, The Americans is much more than a spy thriller. The series follows Elizabeth And Phillip Jennings (Keri Russell & Matthew Rhys), a suburban couple in 1980’s Virginia. They’re also Soviet spies planted in the USA as long-term sleeper agents.

Like The SopranosThe Americans uses its genre to explore themes such as marriage and middle-class American life. Like David Chase, Joe Weisberg also understands the real selling point of TV is the characters; the story is secondary. The series’ main innovation on the prestige TV formula is that it’s not just the man of the family involved in the violence – Elizabeth is Philip’s partner in more than one sense of the word. There’s a lesser version of the series where that isn’t the case.

9 Boardwalk Empire Was Created By Sopranos’ Alum Terence Winter

Terence Winter joined The Sopranos in Season 2 with “Big Girls Don’t Cry.” He became the most important writer on the show besides David Chase himself; Winter has credits on 25 episodes and wrote fan-favorite episodes like “Pine Barrens” and “Long Term Parking.” Winter’s next television project for HBO was one he created: Boardwalk Empire.

Like The SopranosBoardwalk Empire was a New Jersey-set gangster show, but it diverged by also being a period piece. Set during Prohibition, the lead is Nucky Thompson, a bootlegging politician. Nucky was played by another Sopranos alum, Steve Buscemi.

8 Breaking Bad Comes Close To Usurping The Throne

One of the only prestige TV shows which earned comparable success to The Sopranos was Breaking Bad. When discussions of “best TV ever” abound, the two will often be mentioned in the same breath. Vince Gilligan was open about his influence, even naming minor Breaking Bad character Juan Bolsa after Johnny Sack.

Both shows flawlessly weave comedy and drama, but whereas Breaking Bad is a perfectly constructed thriller, The Sopranos is a Great American Novel in TV form. The Sopranos constantly teases its audience that Tony will improve. and then denies them that redemption arc, while Breaking Bad thrills its viewers by showing them the monster inside Walt being released, then devastates them with the consequences.

7 Brotherhood Is The Sopranos In New England Instead Of New Jersey

Some stories in real life are so perfect they seem straight out of fiction. One of them is the tale of the Bulger Brothers – James “Whitey” was the leader of Boston’s Winter Hill Gang and Billy was the longest-serving president of the Massachusetts State Senate. Showtime’s Brotherhood took this real history, moved it to Providence, Rhode Island, and told the story of the Caffee Brothers – politician Tommy (Jason Clarke) and gangster Michael (Jason Isaacs).

If the show’s real-life inspiration was the Bulgers, its dramatic one was The Sopranos; the series was practically billed as an Irish-American version of The Sopranos. Like its more successful HBO counterpart, Brotherhood was a familial drama disguised as a gangster story.

6 Gomorrah Is Italy’s Top Gangster Show

One of the themes in The Sopranos is Italian-American identity. After generations of ingratiating themselves into the “new country,” the Italians of New Jersey cling to an exaggerated, inaccurate version of their heritage; the contradictions are brought to the forefront when Tony, Christopher, and Paulie visit Italy in Season 2 episode “Commendatori.” How deliciously ironic then that one of The Sopranos knock-offs is a show filmed and set in Italy itself. Gomorrah, developed by Roberto Saviano and based on his eponymous non-fiction book, is a dark, brutal look at the homegrown Italian Mafia.

5 Lilyhammer Is Practically A Silvio Spin-Off

Steven Van Zandt is a musician by trade, not an actor. Before The Sopranos, he was most famous as a guitarist in Bruce Springsteen’s E-Street Band. As memorable and funny as Van Zandt made Silvio Dante, he obviously didn’t have the range of James Gandolfini, Edie Falco, or many of the show’s other top performers. It shouldn’t be surprising then that when Van Zandt headlined his own show, Lilyhammer, he was basically just playing Silvio again. Lilyhammer focuses on Frank Tagliano, a New York mobster who joins Witness Protection and is relocated to Norway.

4 Mad Men Was Created By Another Sopranos Writer

Matthew Weiner wrote the pilot script for Mad Men in 1999, the same year that The Sopranos premiered. After David Chase read the script, he offed Matthew Weiner a spot on The Sopranos as a staff writer. Weiner joined in the show’s fifth season and became a creative architect for its final years as vital as Chase and Winter. In 2007, the same year The Sopranos ended, Mad Men premiered on AMC. Despite the show’s different settings, both Tony Soprano and Don Draper are inflicted by the ennui of existence and hampered by an inability to move past their flaws.

3 Magic City Is A Different POV From The Sopranos Format

The Sopranos is often compared to Goodfellas, and the two share an astonishing number of cast members. Just as Goodfellas was followed up by Casino, one of the shows that emerged in the wake of The Sopranos was Magic City. Set in 1959 Miami following the Cuban Revolution, Jeffrey Dean Morgan stars as Ike Evans, a hotel owner in bed with the mob. This sets the series apart from many other gangster dramas; the main character is not a mobster himself, but simply a business partner. The series’ mid-20th-century setting also evokes Mad Men, itself a Sopranos successor.

2 Ray Donovan Is Another Prestige Series About A Brutal Family Man

Showtime is often compared to HBO, even if they never quite found the series to stand toe to toe with The Sopranos. The network’s flagship series for much of the 2010s was Ray Donovan. The titular anti-hero, played by Liev Schreiber, is a Hollywood fixer; someone who makes problems, especially criminal ones, disappear for celebrities. Like The Sopranos, the series splits its focus between Ray’s illicit work and his family life, especially his relationships with his wife Abby (Paula Malcolmson) and father Mickey (Jon Voight). Comparisons to Tony’s struggles with Carmela and his mother Livia are obvious.

1 Sons Of Anarchy Has The Ambition But Not The Quality

Kurt Sutter broke into television as a staff writer on The Shield, and he’s so upfront about the influence of Shakespeare in his work that Sons Of Anarchy has been called “Hamlet On A Harley.” However, the influence of The Sopranos on the show is undeniable – Drea De Matteo even stars as Jax’s ex-wife Wendy.

While The Sopranos focuses on East Coast second/third-generation immigrants who’ve climbed their way into suburbia, SOA is about West Coast white trash. Fittingly, SOA‘s humor is nowhere near as clever, the violence is more gratuitous, it doesn’t achieve any of The Sopranos‘ depth or insight. Despite a strong supporting cast including Katey Sagal and Ron Perlman, Charlie Hunnam is no James Gandolfini.

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