‘The Sopranos’: Why Michael Imperioli Thinks People Will Watch the Show 50 Years From Now

Whether you love or hate The Sopranos, no one can argue about the show’s relevance 21 years after its premiere on HBO. By all accounts, the show is as popular as ever (probably more popular), and along with The Wire it remains the standard in TV excellence.

You can see the show’s enduring popularity reflected in the three separate podcasts featuring Sopranos actors launched since late 2019. Pajama Pants, the first of the bunch, features former Sopranos children Robert Iler (A.J. Soprano) and Jamie-Lynn Sigler (Meadow Soprano).

While that show doesn’t exactly revolve around The Sopranos, the other two do. Both Made Women with Drea de Matteo (Adriana La Cerva) and Talking Sopranos with Michael Imperioli (Christopher Moltisanti) and Steve Schirripa (Bobby Baccala) dig into the episodes, one by one.

On the August 10 edition of Talking Sopranos, Imperioli fielded a question from a younger fan about the legacy of the classic mob show. And Imperioli said he saw The Sopranos sticking around for several more generations.

Michael Imperioli spoke of how ‘The Sopranos’ changed TV with its cinematic quality

'Sopranos' stars Michael Imperioli and Drea de Matteo
Michael Imperioli & Drea De Matteo in scene from ‘The Sopranos’ | Anthony Neste/The LIFE Images Collection via Getty Images

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On the 20th episode of Talking Sopranos, Imperioli spoke about why The Sopranos grabbed people in a different way than previous series. It came down to the approach of creator David Chase and his team of writers and filmmakers.

“What The Sopranos did was, it brought a cinematic quality to television,” Imperioli said. “What people go to the movies for, we were bringing onto TV, week to week. I think people really were ready for it, and viewing television started to change.”

Among those changes, Imperioli cited sex, drugs, violence, profanity, and a lack of commercials — stuff you’d previously only get in a movie. “It was a transitioning of television — moving from what was traditional into something that was much more cinematic. Much more like a movie experience.”

Imperioli believes ‘The Sopranos’ will have the longevity that other great TV series have had

James Gandolfini and Michael Imperioli posing as 'Sopranos' characters
James Gandolfini and Michael Imperioli pose while filming a scene from ‘The Sopranos.’ | Anthony Neste/The LIFE Images Collection via Getty Images

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To answer a 22-year-old fan’s question about the show’s significance in American culture, Imperioli said he did think the show would go down in history. “The fact that [the fan], you’re 22, you were not even born when we shot the pilot,” Imperioli said.

“And you’re binge-ing it for the second time and writing us questions and listening to the podcast. That means that we’re already having a longevity that most shows never have.” Schirripa asked if he thought people would still watch The Sopranos in 50 years — the way he and Imperioli still watch The Honeymooners (1955-56).

“I think so,” Imperioli said. “I grew up watching The Honeymooners, and I still watch it. I’ve seen them hundreds of times and I still laugh. I know exactly what they’re gonna do and what they’re gonna say.” Schirripa said he feels the same way about Seinfeld (1989-98).

Schirripa also noted there are other shows from the ’60s and ’70s he still watches. So why not The Sopranos? “So you think, when we’re long gone and buried, they’re gonna be watching us,” Schirripa said. “I do,” Imperioli replied.