‘The Office’ and ‘The Sopranos’ Have Something in Common, but It’s Not the ‘Mafia’ Episode

Initially it may not seem like it, but The Office and The Sopranos have a lot in common. Yes, The Office had an episode titled “Mafia” with a stereotypical mobster character, but the connection goes beyond that. If you think about it, both shows are about leaders, family, and work. According to actor Drea de Matteo, the two show’s connection goes even deeper than that. Find out how.

'The Office's Michael Scott (Steve Carell) poses at his desk; Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) floats in his pool in 'The Sopranos'
Steve Carell as Michael Scott, Chris Haston/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal | James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano, Anthony Neste/Getty Images

‘Mafia’ episode of ‘The Office’ touches on the Italian-American stereotype

In the season 6 episode “Mafia,” Michael Scott (Steve Carell) meets with a pushy insurance salesman, Angelo Grotti (Mike Starr). Later, Dwight (Rainn Wilson) and Andy (Ed Helms) convince Michael that Angelo is a member of the mafia — his last name is too similar to John Gotti for that not to be true. After Dwight and Andy convince him to meet the salesman in a public place so he can’t become violent, the trio attends the meeting where they interpret Grottis’ sales pitch as veiled threats.

Outside of his Mafioso appearance, Angelo Grotti was not really a member of the mafia within the fictional world of The Office. Moreover, this was one of the only times the show referenced anything resembling the world of The Sopranos. But that doesn’t mean the shows have nothing in common.

Drea de Matteo says ‘The Office’ and ‘The Sopranos’ both appeal to a wide audience  

As a guest on Office actor Brian Baumgartner’s podcast Off the Beat, De Matteo explained the similarities between the HBO series and the NBC comedy show. “I always said this about The Sopranos — it appeals to so many different people on so many levels,” she said. adding:

“You have the goombah’s who like it for the gunshots. You have the critics that really understand the intellectual nature of the show and the way it’s written. Then you have people that take it [as] a family show. Then you have people that are mafia obsessed.”

Drea de Matteo, ‘Off the Beat’

Part of that appeal came from show’s level of intelligence, which is what de Matteo thinks “kept it in its glory” from 1999 until 2007. “It’s the same with The Office,” she continued. “The Office was so off the beaten path and so genuinely different, like the style of the humor … It’s not a sitcom — it was also one of the more genius shows.” 

‘The Office’ and ‘The Sopranos’ cast actors who looked like real people 

Another thing that made The Office and The Sopranos relatable to their audiences was the fact that viewers could see themselves in the characters. “It sounds crazy, but there is comfort [in watching The Office] that is like, ‘I know these people!'” editor Jen Salata explained on Baumgartner’s first podcast — which became a book — An Oral History of The Office. “They’re like me, [and] I’m safe here.”

Showrunner Greg Daniels always intended to “value character, comedy, and behavior as opposed to jokes.” This is partly why The Office has been able to withstand the test of time and mean something to multiple generations. 

“Jokes don’t last that long, but you fall in love with the characters and you always have something to see,” Daniels told Baumgartner. He also credited the cast with creating such compelling characters viewers wanted to care about — something that applies to The Sopranos, too. 

Watch The Sopranos on HBO Max and The Office on Peacock

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