It is difficult to envision a world without The Sopranos. This week marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of David Chase’s iconic mob series, which has become an essential part of our television viewing experience. The show’s debut marked a significant shift in the way television was perceived, with creators treating it as a medium for literary storytelling. This also challenged the dominance of cinema, elevating television to a higher level. In short, life before The Sopranos was drastically different from life after it.
To commemorate the 25th anniversary of The Sopranos, a unique celebration was necessary. But what form should it take? Perhaps a grand reunion of the entire cast, similar to those held for Friends and Harry Potter? Or a comprehensive scholarly account of The Sopranos, covering its origins and lasting impact, published as a stunning hardcover book? Maybe even select episodes could be shown in theaters, giving viewers the chance to fully appreciate the cinematic quality of the series.
None of that has actually occurred, but do not be discouraged because HBO is now posting content from The Sopranos on TikTok. That is at least something, isn’t it?
If you are a follower of the official Sopranos account on TikTok, you may have seen that Warner Bros is now sharing each episode on the platform. However, they are not uploading the full episodes. This is different from when someone shared the Mel Gibson film What Women Want in many smaller pieces online. In this case, each episode is condensed into a 25-second clip.
The initial TikTok clip serves as a preview for the entire series. It features Tony Soprano’s first therapy session where he talks about starting from the bottom. We are introduced to his mother and witness Dr. Melfi’s reaction to how she is portrayed. We also catch glimpses of the ducks, Uncle Junior, and hear Anthony Jr’s iconic line “So what, no fucking ziti now?” followed by a chorus of “Aaaaay.” This particular clip is somewhat coherent.
Some other episodes are not as successful. The episode “Boca” in season one centers around Uncle Junior contemplating killing Tony in retaliation for Tony revealing that he enjoys oral sex. However, when condensed into a 25-second TikTok video, much of the episode’s complexity is lost. What remains are mainly the insults, such as Carmella’s snickering response of “That’s not what I heard” to Junior’s statement of not performing oral sex enough and Tony’s comment about smelling fish.
The upcoming episode of season two, D-Girl, features guest stars Jon Favreau and Alicia Witt. In this episode, Christopher begins to lose interest in the family business and becomes drawn to the allure of Hollywood. One notable moment in the episode is a 25-second scene where Michael Imperioli repeatedly says the word “script.”
The unique aspect of these videos is that they are not just a simple click-bait. The creators have put a lot of effort into condensing each episode with great care, despite the limitations. Rather than showing random scenes, they strive to capture the essence of each episode. In the Italian episode, Commendatori, this is achieved through two clips that effectively convey Paulie’s excitement turning into disappointment while visiting his home country.
The question still remains: why was one of the most intricate examples of serialized storytelling condensed so that only 94% of it is seen? Who is the target audience for this? As of now, the TikTok experiment is approaching the end of its second season, leaving uncertainty about how it will handle the remaining content. How will season five’s “Long Term Parking” capture the slow-building dread leading up to Adriana’s murder? How will season six’s “The Ride” showcase the artistic elements of Christopher’s heroin relapse, accompanied by Fred Neil’s music? Will any of the later TikToks include shots of trees swaying in the wind, as it wouldn’t truly be The Sopranos without them? This social media gimmick is truly bizarre.
Is it really? I must confess that browsing through the current Sopranos TikToks and anticipating future ones has sparked a desire for me to rewatch every episode from the beginning. So who is the target audience for this? I have a dreadful suspicion that it’s for myself.