‘The Sopranos’ is often referred to as one of the best television series of all time, but it didn’t achieve its status without any challenges.
A series truly remarkable in its approach, ‘The Sopranos‘ first premiered in 1999, spanning 6 seasons and 86 episodes. The Emmy-winning series gave viewers a look at Tony Soprano, the de facto boss of the DiMeo crime family. His character created the idea of a televised antihero and made viewers hate him and yet, feel empathetic towards him.
- It followed an Italian American mob boss
- The Sopranos was once sued for its portrayal of Italian-Americans
- James Gandolfini sued HBO for this shocking reason
The gritty drama is full of complex characters and boasts of subtle, nuanced storytelling. It’s largely depicted in a first-person format but Tony’s therapy sessions with Dr Melfi is led by her perspective. The series left fans yearning for more and the showrunners have now finally listened to them. A prequel film titled ‘The Many Saints of Newark’ directed by ‘The Sopranos’ creator David Chase is in the works.
Because the series was a massive hit, fans have long forgotten about the challenges faced by them. One of them occurred in 2001 when a group of Italian American lawyers from Chicago sued the series. Keep reading to learn about it in detail!
It followed an Italian American mob boss
‘The Sopranos’ followed the life of a fictional Italian American mob boss Tony Soprano based in New Jersey. He is the head of an infamous crime family and works hard to balance his criminal and family life.
We see Tony at work, at home, and in therapy with Dr Jennifer Melfi. Overwhelmed by his life, the mob boss confides in Melfi during his sessions throughout the show. It details how he became a criminal by unravelling Tony’s childhood and the influence of his father. There are moments of black comedy that present themselves during this largely serious, aggressive drama full of violence.
The story was initially conceived as a feature film about “a mobster in therapy having problems with his mother”. David Chase, after receiving input from his manager, decided to adapt it into a television series instead. The rest is history.
In 2001, the series was sued by a group of lawyers who believed its portrayal of Italian-Americans to be disrespectful.
It was once sued for its portrayal of Italian-Americans
The HBO series has been one of the highest examples of great television, but a group of lawyers from Chicago didn’t think so. Most characters on ‘The Sopranos’ including non-mobsters are Italian-American and the show makes frequent references to Italian delicacies too.
A group of Italian-American, Chicago-based lawyers sued the series showrunners in 2001, according to ABC News. The lawsuit filed was under the “individual dignity” clause of the Illinois constitution, which cited that it disregarded the Italian-American community. The report read:
“The popular HBO series affronts the dignity of Italian-Americans by portraying them as criminals.”
Enrico Mirabelli from the American Italian Defense Association made a personal statement sharing his thoughts.
“For most people who don’t know Italians personally, they look at The Sopranos and they think most Italian families are like The Sopranos”
He shared with ‘Good Morning America’. The lawsuit was never meant for the series to be cancelled but was dismissed by a judge later on anyway.
James Gandolfini sued HBO for this shocking reason
Believe it or not, ‘The Sopranos’ lead star James Gandolfini aka Tony Soprano himself sued HBO at one time. His actions almost caused irreparable damage to the show, with showrunners discussing its cancellation for good.
In 2003, the actor filed a lawsuit in California’s Superior Court which would free him from returning in the show’s fifth season. The suit filed on behalf of the actor contended that HBO breached his contract by not informing him that ‘The Sopranos’ would produce a fifth season. The bitter, highly publicized dispute was eventually settled between Gandolfini and HBO but the show was at great risk during the time.
James Gandolfini returned for the fifth and sixth season and delivered equally impactful performances, being a scene-stealer each time. ‘The Many Saints of Newark’ has cast his son Michael Gandolfini in the role of a young Tony Soprano, since the actor’s death in 2013.
Did you know that ‘The Sopranos’ had been sued for these shocking reasons? Let us know in the comments!