Support Marketplace

'Mad Men' fan? You have 'The Sopranos' to thank

Flowers and a copy of the Newark Star-Ledger sit at the booth where the final scene of the final episode of the HBO show, 'The Sopranos,' was filmed, at Holsten's restaurant on June 20, 2013 in Bloomfield, N.J. 'Sopranos' star James Gandolfini, who played the troubled mob boss Tony Soprano, died at age 51 yesterday in Rome.

"The Sopranos" is the story of a really bad guy, with sad eyes, that we couldn’t help but root for.

“It was the very first show that dared present a main character who was unredeemable,” said Elyane Rapping, a professor emeritus at SUNY Buffalo. “He’s a sociopath.”

Tony Soprano was a sociopath that paved the way for characters like Walter White on "Breaking Bad" and Don Draper from "Mad Men."

And, creating an anti-hero is only the beginning of the TV law-breaking the show did. “'The Sopranos' really changed everything about television,” said Tim Molloy, TV editor at The Wrap, a website covering Hollywood.

Molloy said TV traditionally had rigid storytelling structures, but then "'The Sopranos' really threw all of that out and gave other shows the freedom to throw all of that out.”

The show also upended the old-school TV business model.

Gary Edgerton is a communication professor at Butler University and author of a book on "The Sopranos."

He said the show marked a big change in the industry, “if people were to look for break-out programming they were no longer going to look at the networks.”

"The Sopranos" also showed that you could spend big money on quality TV and that it could pay off. 

About the author

Adriene Hill is the senior multimedia reporter for LearningCurve.

Comments

I agree to American Public Media's Terms and Conditions.
With Generous Support From...