For over eight years and six seasons, The Sopranos took the world of television by storm, so much so that Rolling Stone awarded it first place in its list of “100 Greatest TV Shows of all time”. They were not the only ones who thought so highly of the epic saga following Tony Soprano and his crime family, however, as by the end of the series’ run, similar acclaim was received by popular media outlets such as The Guardian, The Huffington Post and New York Post.
With its exceptional acting, captivating story lines and effective incorporation of many thought provoking themes including Italian-American culture, family, and crime, many fans of this series will no doubt be overcome with nostalgia from time to time now that the series has come to an end. For this reason, lets take a look at some other shows that may wet the appetites of fans of The Sopranos.
Update on June 27th, 2020 by Richard Keller: The Sopranos isn’t only missed for its performances and stories. It’s also missed because its abrupt ending left fans wondering what happened to Tony and his family. Due to this, they need to supplement their love for the series with similar shows. Here are a few more to watch if you miss The Sopranos.
15. Queen of the South
One could probably consider The Sopranos as a coming of age story as Tony tries to juggle family and criminal enterprises at the same time. The same can be said of USA Network’s Queen of the South. However, in this case, the main character isn’t a balding guy from New Jersey. She’s a poor young woman, Teresa Mendoza, who marries into a Mexican drug cartel.
Unfortunately, her husband dies not long after the show begins. Fortunately, she’s left with a drug bible with all of the cartel’s pertinent information. It allows Teresa to seize opportunities that permit her to quickly climb the drug trafficking ladder. Queen of the South has so many twists and turns that missing one episode can throw a normal viewer into a tailspin.
14. Burn Notice
The hit USA Network show reveals how criminal networks can be taken down each week by a trio of extremely talented individuals. Jeffrey Donovan is Michael Weston, a former CIA agent who has been burned. Returned to his home city of Miami, he spends several seasons trying to figure out who burned him and why.
To do this he needs money, so he takes on various “jobs” that require him to infiltrate some of Miami’s biggest crime organizations. He’s joined in his adventures by an arms dealer and former girlfriend, Fiona, and best friend Sam Axe. Burn Notice is funny, adventurous, and keeps you wondering who burned Michael in the first place.
Where The Sopranos is about someone who was born into organized crime, Ozark is the story of someone who has no choice to be part of it. When a money-laundering scheme goes awry, Chicago financial advisor Marty Byrde has to move his family to Missouri’s Ozark Mountains to make amends.
While there to re-launder $500 million dollars, he gets involved with local criminals as well as the Kansas City mafia. It’s also where his family begins to fracture. In the end, Ozark is not about an up-and-coming criminal mastermind. It’s about a desperate man who seems to crawl further down the criminal sewer.
12. Shut Eye
After his success in Burn Notice, Jeffrey Donovan returned to series television in the Hulu series Shut Eye. Instead of portraying a CIA agent with amazing abilities, Jeffrey is a failed magician who cons customers in believing he’s a psychic. Along the way, he begins to actually manifest visions.
Unlike his Burn Notice role, Donovan is a meek anti-hero. His main goals are to keep his family together and break away from the psychic criminal empire — yes, there is one — run by Fonso and his mother. Shut Eye is a story of how a man wants to get out of his mediocre life and fulfill his dreams.
11. The Shield
The Shield is the gritty FX crime drama that made fans ask, “Wait, isn’t that the guy from The Commish?” Yes, Michael Chiklis starred as a cop in both series. However, his role on The Shield was totally different.
On the FX program, Chiklis portrays Vic Mackey, leader of a strike team that infiltrates criminal organizations in Los Angeles’ gang-infested neighborhoods. Though the team has a high success rate, Mackey and his group are corrupt individuals who take their fair share of drug busts and shoot their own people. The show’s concept was based on real events involving an L.A. anti-gang unit in the 1990s. So, it reveals a dark and gritty side to the city’s law enforcement officials.
10. Peaky Blinders
Staying within the crime family theme, this series follows the exploits of Tommy Shelby and his family, who live in 1910s Birmingham and run one of the most powerful gangs in England. Due to their high profile, the Peaky Blinders attract the attention of Chief Inspector Major Chester Campbell, who has been sent over by Winston Churchill to cleanse the city of its criminal element.
This series is ideal for Sopranos fans who enjoy observing the interactions between Tony and his family, and Tommy in the Peaky Blinders does well to portray the role of patriarch that Tony left behind.
9. Magic City
While characters such as Silvio Dante could send shivers down fans’ spines at the best of times (think the execution of Adriana), so too can Ben Diamond, Miami mobster and main antagonist from Magic City. His intimidating and imposing demeanour, along with his fiery temper, will provide fans with a number of shocking scenes that many a Sopranos fan will enjoy.
Also a period piece, this series follows Ike Evans, majority owner of the Miramar Playa, who strives to build the greatest hotel that has ever stood on the beach sands of Miami. On his way to achieving this dream, Ike made an ill-fated deal with mobster Ben Diamond; a deal that would see many a crime be committed in the glitzy and glamorous establishment that is the Miramar Playa.
8. Sons Of Anarchy
Those who enjoyed the tough-guy aspects and male companionship that The Sopranos had to offer will love this long-running series following an outlaw motorcycle crew operating out of a fictional town in California’s Central Valley.
Focused on Jax Teller, the club’s Vice President, this show explores the many inner operations of the Sons of Anarchy, including illegal weapons trading, protection runs and personal relationships between gang members and family.
7. Mayans M.C.
For those who found the Sons of Anarchy recommendation to be worth their while, this spinoff may also be of particular interest. Set four years after the events of its predecessor, this series focuses on the Mayans Motorcycle Club, long term rivals-turned-allies of the Sons of Anarchy who operate out of Santo Padre, Southern California.
Ezekiel “EZ” Reyes is a new prospect in the motorcycle gang, whose traditional Mexican family’s American dream slipped through their fingers due to cartel violence. Now EZ must pick up the pieces from his troubled past and navigate a world of violence, loyalty, family and, of course, vigilante justice.
If an intricate plot with multiple, ongoing storylines is what gets you hooked, then look no further than Justified. When Raylan Givens, a deputy U.S. Marshall based in Miami, kills infamous gun thug Tommy Bucks in a controversial manner, he is reassigned to work in the Marshall’s office in his home state of Kentucky.
There, he encounters numerous zany characters, some of whom are intimidating and dangerous, while others seem to appear purely for the comic relief. Each season of the show seems to focus on another antagonist, however Raylan’s frenemy and coal-mining buddy Boyd Crowder remains a constant element of the series, and is almost always up to no good.
5. Boardwalk Empire
Veering back to the gangster backdrop, this period piece set in Atlantic City during the Prohibition covers a lot of themes that were prominent in the story of Tony Soprano, including violence, complex and tense interpersonal relationships and plenty of illegal activities.
Enoch “Nucky” Thompson is the treasurer of Atlantic County who has his fair share of run ins with mobsters, government agents and prominent historical figures of the time. These interactions, together with his lavish lifestyle, cause a rise in suspicion for the federal government, who send several agents to investigate the goings on in what is a corrupt and dangerous county.
4. Mad Men
While this series differs from The Sopranos in many aspects, particularly the lack of violence, fans of the aforementioned show should enjoy the acting, interactions between engaging characters and well-penned script, along with yer another unique look at American culture from another period.
Centred on an advertising agency in New York City, this series follows the exploits of Don Draper, the creative director at Sterling Cooper, as well as the drama that unfolds within his agency. Also influencing both business and personal circumstances from time to time are the political landscape of 1960s America, alcoholism and racial tensions.
For those Sopranos fans who appreciate getting a look into the activities of criminal enterprises, comes a story documenting the drug trade in Columbia and later Mexico, and the Drug Enforcement Agency’s struggle agains drug kingpins during the war on drugs.
This series starts off by telling the story as seen through the eyes of DEA agents Javier Pena and Steve Murphy. As the narrative progresses, audiences are treated with a look into the operations of further cartels, such as the Cali Cartel and the Guadalajara Cartel, and are also introduced to a host of new characters along the way.
2. The Wire
If there is one thing that Tony Soprano and company does incredibly well, its immersing the audience into certain aspects of American culture, particularly those sides to it that may not be helpful for maintaining a stellar reputation. Those who enjoy this cultural immersion may also appreciate The Wire, which delves into the harsh realities of the city of Baltimore and the people who live there.
In this crime drama, a different public institution in the city of Baltimore is focused on each season, while each institution’s relationship with law enforcement is exhibited. At the forefront of this series is Jimmy McNulty, a conceited yet talented detective in the Baltimore Police Department who makes it his business to take down criminals no matter the cost.
1. Breaking Bad
Should you enjoy both The Sopranos as well as The Wire, then you should have every excuse to indulge in this thrilling series with excellent cinematography and captivating storytelling.
When depressed high school chemistry teacher Walter White learns that he has lung cancer, he turns to the production and sale of crystal meth as a means of providing his family with financial security. This involves partnering with former student Jesse Pinkman, hiring lawyer Saul Goodman and doing business with drug kingpin Gus Fring.