Holiday Gift Guide 2015: The Sopranos


I’m guessing you’re probably wondering why I would pick “The Sopranos Complete Series” as a great holiday gift idea. With the holidays just a around the corner, it is important to keep in touch with family; all family, even the ones you whisper about. Is the story about America’s favorite crime family the ideal stocking stuffer? You bet your pasta fagioli, it is! Meet me after the jump.

The Family

“The Sopranos” was an HBO television series created by David Chase. It was a crime drama that revolved around the fictional New Jersey family of Tony Soprano (the late James Gandolfini). Tony was part of a criminal organization that was a modern day version of the Mafia. Surrounded by a mostly loving family which included his wife Carmela (Edie Falco), daughter Meadow (Jamie-Lynn Sigler) and son AJ (Robert Iler), Tony, who was based on a real life New Jersey mobster, Vinnie Ocean Palermo, started out in season one as the capo in the DiMeo crime family.


Tony Soprano, along with his colleagues and nephew Christopher (Michael Imperioli), did the dirty work for the various bosses using any and all violent means necessary. Even though we know that Tony is bad news, we can’t help but sympathize with him when he goes through his panic attacks. Trying to balance his family life with his sociopathic tendencies, Tony seeks the help of a psychiatrist, Jennifer Melfi (Lorraine Bracco).


Although the subject matter revolved around syndicate crime, it was easier to digest the dark side of “The Sopranos” which included murder, betrayal, torture and illicit affairs, because all the bad, the good and the ugly ingredients were mixed together in a large bowl as we were treated to family time when Carmela whipped up one of her tasty big Italian meals for the family.


This series was not for the weak of heart. The show was about bad men doing bad things and the scenes was profound as “The Sopranos” revealed the underbelly of the beast known as the mafia while showing the importance of family; some blood and some gangster.

The show was all about Tony, the neighbor down the street who gave a friendly nod as he picked up his newspaper while dressed in a bathrobe. James Gandolfini played his character as a killer with a conscience. Tony did what was expected of him, but it was eating him alive. Tony lived life with gusto; enjoying food, drink and women and, unlike the gangster films, Gandolfini made his character a three dimensional man with hopes and fears just like the rest of us slobs.


Growing up in South Philly, we knew which homes belonged to the mafia. It was one of the biggest secrets that everyone, including: the police; the FBI, and even the neighborhood children, were in on. Like Tony, these South Philly mobsters were family men who mostly looked out for their neighbors…just as long as you didn’t piss them off. The South Philly I grew up in had its share of shootings and mob hits on the streets just like in the movies.

Our family grocery store 1950's
Our family grocery store 1950’s South Philadelphia

There were six seasons and eighty-six episodes of “The Sopranos”. The only other television series that I feel has come close to the excellence of “The Sopranos” is the Coen Brother’s outstanding Fargo on FX and, if you’re interested, my little paisano, you can buy the complete eighty-six episodes of “The Sopranos” on Amazon or, here.


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