David Chase sees a connection between The Sopranos and The Office. Premiering on HBO in 1999, The Sopranos centers on an angst-ridden Italian-American mobster and father, Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini). Over 6 seasons, the show primarily explores Tony’s struggles, whether they be with his mother Livia (Nancy Marchand) or his mafia colleagues, through therapy sessions with his psychiatrist, Dr. Melfi (Lorraine Bracco). After airing its final episode in 2007, The Sopranos garnered controversy for its abrupt and ambiguous ending and has recently reached a wider audience due to its streaming availability on HBO Max.
NBC’s hit mockumentary sitcom, The Office, enjoyed similar acclaim during its initial run from 2005 to 2013, but its status as a cultural touchstone is largely owed to its prior streaming availability on Netflix and now Peacock. Based on the BBC series of the same name, The Office depicts the everyday lives of the employees of the Dunder Mifflin Paper Company. The series originally starred Steve Carell, Rainn Wilson, John Krasinski, Jenna Fischer, Craig Robinson, and B. J. Novak, and later added Ed Helms, Amy Ryan, James Spader, Ellie Kemper, and Catherine Tate to its ensemble cast.
Now, in an interview with Uproxx promoting The Many Saints of Newark, The Sopranos creator David Chase raised an insightful similarity he noticed between his hit crime drama and The Office. After the interviewer mentioned how the two shows emerged right before social media exploded in popularity, Chase pointed out the fact that both The Sopranos and The Office are “about a group of annoyed, angry people.”
Chase went on to speculate that audiences see reflections of themselves in these two shows, which possibly contributes to their massive popularity. Though The Sopranos and The Office take considerably different approaches to their subject matter, as one is a contemplative drama and the other a mockumentary sitcom, Chase’s observation largely rings true. Both series can be viewed as modern examinations of the American Dream, although the characters have vastly different occupations.
The Sopranos actor Michael Imperioli actually revealed another interesting connection between the two shows earlier this summer. After Steve Carell left The Office in 2011, James Gandolfini was reportedly being eyed as his replacement, but HBO paid him $3 million to turn down the role to protect the purity of The Sopranos‘ legacy. While Warner Bros. is taking advantage of the show’s popularity with a prequel film, fans continue to clamor for a reboot or follow-up to The Office. For now, one thing is certain, the two shows’ popularity will endure.