I recently finished the entire six seasons of The Sopranos a few weeks ago, and I would like preface my review by stating that it is definitely one of the best pieces of entertainment I have ever seen. The acting, the writing, the pacing, the cinematography, the music, and the characters are the best I have ever seen in a TV show. The Sopranos is an amazing show because it takes the stereotypical mafia genre and transforms it into something incredible while exploring various complex themes such as loyalty, family, friendship, trust, greed, death, lust, violence, crime, racism, revenge, substance abuse, pop culture, Italian American culture, betrayal, guilt, corruption, mental illness, jealousy, and morality to name just a few. Throughout the show's six seasons I was always blown away by what the writers were able to fit in 55 minute long episodes.
The acting here is top-notch, every single character has their own unique personality and they are easily distinguishable from each other. The character arcs are amazing and many different and interesting subplots are explored throughout the show. However, the true star of the show is without a doubt, Tony Soprano. As the audience, we are able to witness Tony go through an incredible range of emotions and changes. We see him at his lowest points and his highest points. The show provides us with an intimate look into Tony's world by showing us how he handles all aspects of his life. We see how Tony handles relationships with family friends, business associates, police officers, politicians and of course, his enemies. There are two things that help this show keep away from the tried-and-true traditional themes we usually encounter in mob movies, and those are Tony's therapy sessions and his dreams. The therapy sessions and dream sequences humanize Tony Soprano, a ruthless mob boss, in a way that no other mob movie has. The supporting cast such as Carmela (Tony's wife), AJ and Meadow (Tony's children), and Christopher Moltisanti (Tony's nephew and associate) always give amazing performances and never fall flat. The dialogue is witty, sharp and many times, extremely humorous.
With all this mind, it is without a doubt, not a show for children by any means. Every episode of The Sopranos contains constant strong language, nearly every vulgar word you can possibly think of is said on this show. The show has no positive role models. People lie, cheat, steal, backstab, and kill without any hesitation. Politicians, judges, police officers and the FBI are all portrayed as being mostly corrupt and incompetent at their jobs. The majority of the men on the show cheat on their wives and have many different girlfriends. One of the main characters deals with a serious drug addiction and there are many graphic scenes of heroin and cocaine use. Nudity is prevalent in nearly every episode as one of the main hangouts of the characters is a strip club. Sexual content is graphic and often includes thrusting, explicit dialogue, nudity, and loud moaning. Oral sex and anal sex are graphically shown. There are explicit discussions about both heterosexual and homosexual sex. Violence occurs frequently and sometimes suddenly. There are brutal beatings shown throughout the series, many people are shot suddenly with copious amounts of blood spraying or oozing from their wounds, some people are stabbed or strangled to death, and other people are mercilessly beaten with blunt objects, sometimes leading to their death. An old woman is smothered to death in one episode. Mutilated body parts are shown in one episode, including a severed human head. At one point, a man throws another man out of a second story window. Many characters drink to excess and insult each other. Most of the main characters make their money by intimidating and stealing from others, sometimes at gunpoint. Characters often engage in disrespectful and reckless behavior. The spoils of the criminal life are shown very often with the main characters living in large homes, wearing designer suits and expensive jewelry, and driving luxury cars. Both legal and illegal gambling are shown often, including card games, table games, sports betting, and horse racing. One supporting character develops an extreme gambling habit and is forced to sell his business because of it. Women, for the most part, are treated very poorly and are expected to put up with it. There are some scenes of disturbing domestic violence, including men beating women. It also implied that many of the women employed at the strip club owned by the main character are prostitutes. Overall, there is nothing positive or of redeeming value here for children. I would recommend this show strictly for adults.