The Sopranos, a landmark series that revolutionized television and forever etched its name in pop culture, celebrates its 25th anniversary. While the series remains a towering achievement, its creator, David Chase, sees the anniversary differently. Chase believes it marks not just a milestone, but a potential tombstone for TV‘s golden age, crushed under the weight of streaming’s relentless churn.
While discussing the show’s 25th anniversary in a recent interview with The Times, Chase shared his views on the decline of quality TV, attributing this downturn to risk-averse executives and audiences getting easily distracted. “Yes, this is the 25th anniversary, so of course it’s a celebration,” Chase told The Times. “But perhaps we shouldn’t look at it like that. Maybe we should look at it like a funeral.”
The Sopranos creator then went on to label the recent television era as a “25-year blip,” a statement that might seem controversial, especially considering the modern era has produced numerous classics. The writer and director initially began in network television before transitioning to HBO to escape the constraints of ad dollars. “Back then the networks were in an artistic pit. A sh–hole,” Chase revealed. “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.”
With The Sopranos, Chase thought he would make television networks “regret all their decades of stupidity and greed,” but now, he said that we’re going back. “We’re going back to where I was. They’re going to have commercials… and I’ve already been told to dumb it down.” Chase referred to a project with Hannah Fidell about a high-end escort in witness protection. Chase revealed they’ve been hit with the “unfortunate truth” that their storyline is a bit too complex.
He continued, “Who is this all really for? I guess the stockholders?” Chase also pointed the finger at “multitasking” and the widespread smartphone addiction. “We seem to be confused and audiences can’t keep their minds on things,” he said, “so we can’t make anything that makes too much sense, takes our attention, and requires an audience to focus.” Chase concluded by saying, “So it is a funeral. Something is dying.”
Though Chase’s perspective has some merit, it’s not entirely accurate. Exceptional TV shows haven’t vanished, and even though times have changed, the storytelling usually remains top-notch. On the other hand, while the content deluge has brought us an incredible variety, it’s also diluted the average quality of writing and plot complexity, occasionally leaving viewers feeling underwhelmed.
Featured Video from Man of Many