The Sopranos TV Poster Image

The Sopranos

Violent mob drama doesn't pull any punches.
Parents recommendPopular with kids

What parents need to know

Positive messages

There's no easy message/take-away here. The show offers a complex look at issues related to family relationships and life inside the mob. Little of what occurs is clearly black-and-white; there are always shades of gray. Characters value their families, but they also coldy commit murder.

Positive role models

The main characters are all career criminals. Breaking the law is the norm, and law enforcement characters are portrayed unsympathetically. That said, the main character does value his family and also sees a therapist to cope with panic attacks and other issues.


Violence is common and graphic. Some scenes are quite explicit; the matter-of-fact way these wiseguys go about their business makes the beatings and killings seem even more chilling.


Almost every episode features scenes with sex and nudity.


The mafia characters' language is incredibly foul. Sometimes it seems like every other word in a sentence would be banned on commercial television.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

One of the main characters is fighting a heroin habit, and some scenes clearly show him using. Most characters drink, ranging from wine with a meal to unpleasant benders, which often lead to violence. Some underage drinking as well.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this Emmy-winning adult mob drama is both realistic and violent. The edgy HBO series makes murder and assault just part of the landscape and makes heroes out of criminals. Some beatings are hard to watch, and the petty infighting between these mid-level wiseguys is anything but honorable. Older teens may well have heard of the show, but it's definitely meant for adults. (Note: The edited episodes running on basic cable do away with much of the swearing and nudity.)

What's the story?

Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) is a family man -- with a difference. He has a loving wife, Carmela (Edie Falco), and two college-age children, Meadow (Jamie-Lynn Siegler) and Anthony Jr. (Robert Iler), all of whom turn a blind eye to his other family. Tony is the boss of a New Jersey mafia clan, and the heart of this fascinating show is his conflicted efforts to juggle his responsibilities to both.

Is it any good?


THE SOPRANOS is amazingly violent, yet the savage beatings and offhand killings seem like just another day at the office for these brutal career criminals. The viewer is quickly sucked into their schemes and roots for them to pull off every job. But this series is less about big heists than it is about the petty jealousies and personal conflicts within every family, whether they're linked by blood or by an oath of loyalty.

The extensive supporting cast of hoodlums and family members (many people are both in this business) is both colorful and strong, providing endless demands on Tony's time, which further takes him away from his real family. This is a series that repeatedly questions the meaning of duty and the power of loyalty. Both are thought-provoking matters that could be interesting for older teens, but The Sopranos isn't a show that kids should watch lightly, no matter how mature they seem.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how the rigid social structure within the mafia relies on the value of keeping your word and the importance of loyalty. Which comes first -- obeying the law or family?

  • Are any of the characters' criminal actions in any way justifiable? Does the end ever justify the means?

  • How does the violence on this show compare to that in others you've seen? Why can some channels get away with stronger content than others?

TV details

Premiere date:January 10, 1999
Cast:Edie Falco, James Gandolfini, Lorraine Bracco
Networks:A&E, HBO
TV rating:TV-MA
Available on:DVD, Streaming

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What parents and kids say

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Parent of a 10 and 10 year old Written bydavid.wallace May 13, 2011

Worse For Kids than Pornography

Excellent show. Awful role models, profuse cursing, nudity, simulated intercourse, frequent displays of high end items ($15,000 Patek watches, Harry Winston diamond earings and necklaces). Virtually every character curses- including the FBI, Kids, and Doctors. The mobsters commit murders as if life has no value. The mobsters show no remorse and the show portrays them as the heros. There are numerous bar scenes, heroin, meth, crack, cigars, and cigarettes. There is domestic abuse, graphic decapitation, people burned alive, smothering elderly women, brutal beatings (often accompanied by laughing and cheering), strangling (shown close up), prostitute killings, castration (implied), a head gets run over by a idling car with children in the backseat, and countless shootings (literally countless, at least one per episode). There are also many illegal gambling scenes, prostitution, and robbery. The show sends the message that it is cool to be a mobster. This show can impact a child or even some adults in a very negative way.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 14 years old Written byEntropy July 30, 2011

It's an incredible show, but certainly not for everyone.

To be honest, I find that attempting to rate a film, or Television show by whether or not it is age appropriate is completely ridiculous. What some 14 year old's can handle, will turn an adult's stomach, and vice versa. Thus, I will not base this review by age, but by the quality, and the content of the actual show. "The Sopranos" is in my somewhat bias opinion, one of the best shows ever made. Ever since I was 10 years old I have always had a fascination with the criminal psyche, and the Mafia as a whole. I read books like "The Godfather", and watched films such as "Goodfellas" and "Casino" starting at a very young age. Looking back, I may not have been mature enough to handle this sort of graphic content in the right tense, but what's done is done. The Sopranos is violent, passionate, and is packed full of sexual content and drugs. The criminals in this show have a very twisted sense of "moral" and "ethical" values, abiding by the "rules" set by their hierarchy, but It's a show about loyalty, family, and the mafioso way of life. You'll either love it, or hate it, and here's why. Many viewers will be pushed away from this show by the graphic beatings, shootings, stabbings, the seemingly excess amount of sexual content and nudity, and the horrific language spouted by the main characters in almost every sentence. But, it is one of most realistic depictions of mobster social structure that you'll ever see. Thus, I rate this show 5 Stars. Use your own discretion when watching it, or potentially allowing your children to watch it, but please don't blindly follow reviewer advice given to you by members of CSM staff that you will never meet. Reviews are very relative in the fact that someone else's moral viewpoint may not conform to your own. Rent a disc of this show, or catch a re-run on cable. If you like the first few episodes, I'd recommend renting the whole series. It is truly a visual masterpiece.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Kid, 9 years old December 10, 2009


What other families should know
Too much swearing