This January marks the 25th anniversary of “The Sopranos,” one of the most acclaimed and beloved shows ever. David Chase’s mobster drama paved the way for other gritty, boundary-pushing dramas, and is considered to have kicked off what’s often called the modern “Golden Age” of television. But now, that Golden Age is over, according to Chase himself.
In an interview with the Times U.K. (via The Guardian), Chase referred to the 25th anniversary of “The Sopranos” as a “funeral” for the type of sophisticated, ambitious television that his iconic show made popular and buzzy. He referred to the age of Prestige or Peak TV — which saw the rise of acclaimed shows like “Succession,” “Mad Men,” “Breaking Bad,” and “The Wire,” among many others — as a “25-year blip.”
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“And to be clear, I’m not talking only about ‘The Sopranos,’ but a lot of other hugely talented people out there who I feel increasingly bad for,” Chase told the Times. “This is the 25th anniversary, so of course it’s a celebration. But perhaps we shouldn’t look at it like that. Maybe we should look at it like a funeral.”
Chase further stated that he’s already seen the signs of television regressing in complexity in his own career, saying that he has been warned against making television that “requires an audience to focus.” He shared a story about a project he’s working on with screenwriter Hannah Fidell, about a high-end sex worker in witness protection. According to Chase, executives have already criticized their script, still in draft stages, for being “too complex.”
“We are more into multitasking,” Chase told The Times. “We seem to be confused and audiences can’t keep their minds on things, so we can’t make anything that makes too much sense, takes our attention and requires an audience to focus. And as for streaming executives? It is getting worse. We’re going back to where we were.”
Elsewhere in the interview, Chase spoke about his struggles to get “The Sopranos” made before its 1999 HBO debut, as several networks such as Fox rejected his pitch for it. He memorably described the network at the time as being in an “artistic pit.”
“The process was repulsive. In meetings these people would always ask to take out the one thing that made an episode worth doing. I should have quit,” Chase said. “I should have known that a real mafia wiseguy show would not happen on US TV. If you think your grandmother is risk adverse, you should meet network people.”
Chase returned to the world of “The Sopranos” with “The Many Saints of Newark,” a prequel film that released in 2021 to mixed reception. Chase is currently collaborating on a new, untitled project with original series star Michael Imperioli.
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