Famous Italian Americans First Ward Heritage Mafia Newark Pop Culture

The Sopranos Silver Anniversary

Today is an incredibly important anniversary. On January 10, 1999, The Sopranos made its debut on HBO. Of course living in North Jersey as an American of Italian descent, I was very interested in what this show was all about. Wow. Did it rock my world. It is now considered one of the best television shows of all time.

“They Must be Following Us Around!”

After the usual Sunday dinner, dessert, coffee, and conversation, things began to get a little hurried. As the show time creeped closer, someone would always say, “either we wrap this up now, or I’m here until after The Sopranos is over.” That was how time was counted time on Sunday nights. Before the show. After the show.

The Sopranos logo

I remember my Aunt Florence calling my mother on a Monday after the show saying “they must be following us around; it is just like how it really is!” From filming on location in North Jersey, to talking about the family heritage from Avellino, it felt familiar. The Sunday dinner. The drama. The yelling. The extended family. It was like watching home movies… well, except for the murders and mafia.

Myth vs. Reality

That mafia stereotype is something I talk about again and again. It is hard to separate the myth from the reality for the general public. We generally have a love/hate relationship with these movies and television shows.

Pride in Heritage

The brilliance of The Sopranos was developed by the great David Chase, calling on his own complicated relationship with his mother, his personal struggle with panic attacks and depression, and his North Jersey upbringing in an Italian household. He brought together a stellar cast, the majority of whom had Italian immigrant blood in them, and developed a television show that is still considered groundbreaking.

It makes me proud to know that this genius piece of entertainment was developed by a Jersey guy with a nod to the Irpinian heritage of the First Ward of Newark. If anything, it is a reminder we all grew up with our own cast of characters.

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