This review looks at what is quality television and what makes The Sopranos so successful. ―Quality Television‖ term has started to be used by critics and scholars after 1990s to describe a genre which contains the style, content and its subject. They use this term to qualify the television show to higher than others. But what are those reasons making those shows better than others? Kristin Thompson’s criteria for “quality television” programs are “…a quality pedigree, a large ensemble cast, a series memory, creation of a new genre through recombination of older ones, self-consciousness, and pronounced tendencies toward the controversial and the realistic”. Also, US group Viewers For Quality Television describes Quality Television as “A quality show is something we anticipate, focuses more on relationships, explores character, it enlightens, challenges, involves and confronts the viewer; it provokes thought…”
The elements that make the TV series more cinematic are good acting, good script and a big budget. In The Sopranos, each episode is polished like a feature film. They shoot it on 35mm film and 16:9 aspect ratio. They keep the scenes a bit longer than usual. They focus on the characters more than the action. Each character has its own arc and personal inside problems. For example, in the season three, the episode seven, the audience watches Carmela Soprano is dealing with herself being a wife to a sinner and criminal husband. Or Vito‘s own story within few episodes in season 6, he is dealing with his mafia fellows finding out that he is a homosexual. As David Chase says, it is more visual than talking. Also during the shooting process having higher budgets gives them to work on the episode like it is a feature film.
What is so good about The Sopranos?
The creator of The Sopranos David Chase (David DeCesare), is a member of an Italian-American family in New Jersey. He says that it is impossible to grow up in New Jersey and not to envy mafia life style.
Published in Political Reflection Magazine Vol. 2 No. 3