This week, we’re celebrating the 25th anniversary of The Sopranos, the hit HBO series that quite literally changed the game for TV. Prior to that show, conventional networks wouldn’t dare to put a truly irredeemable leading character on TV. Call it the Tony Soprano effect. With series like Breaking Bad and many others, the show’s influence continues to resonate even after two-and-a-half decades.
Many of Netflix‘s darker series wouldn’t have been possible if The Sopranos hadn’t led the way. That’s why we’re throwing the spotlight on three great shows on Netflix that carry on the spirit of The Sopranos. If you liked The Sopranos, then you’re going to love these shows.
The Sopranos‘ co-star Steven Van Zandt got to headline his own series in Lilyhammer, and he also co-wrote every episode. This wasn’t the first series created by Netflix, but it was the first time that Netflix had an exclusive show of its own. Van Zandt also lightly retreads his former Sopranos character, Silvio Dante, as a new character, Frank Tagliano, an ex-mobster who turns on his crime family to save his own life.
As part of his deal with the U.S. government, Frank asks to be relocated to Lillehammer, a city in Norway, where he is given a new identity as Giovanni “Johnny” Henriksen. Although Frank finds new love with a single mom, Sigrid Haugli (Marian Saastad Ottesen), he never leaves his mob mentality behind and still manages to get in trouble in his new country. Frank’s sloppiness also eventually leads his old enemies in the New York mafia to discovery his hiding place.
Watch Lilyhammer on Netflix.
Before he went on to star in Oppenheimer, Cillian Murphy headlined the British crime series Peaky Blinders for six seasons. Murphy played Thomas “Tommy” Shelby, the head of the Peaky Blinders street gang in the aftermath of World War I. Tommy leads the gang to prominence in the British underworld, but it still isn’t enough for him. That’s why Tommy pushes to expand the reach of the gang even when his ambitions come back to haunt him.
Peaky Blinders also had a knack for attracting veteran performers and rising stars, including Tom Hardy, Sam Neill, Anya Taylor-Joy, Kingsley Ben-Adir, and Adrien Brody. And unlike some other shows on Netflix, Peaky Blinders was given the chance to complete its narrative with a six-season run.
Watch Peaky Blinders on Netflix.
Without The Sopranos and Tony Soprano, there would be no Breaking Bad or Walter White. The Sopranos ushered in the age of the TV antihero, which is why the creative team on Breaking Bad had such a free hand in chronicling the depths that Walter went to as he completed his transformation from a dying high school science teacher to one of the most feared figures in the criminal underworld.
In the beginning, Walter recruited his former student, Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul), to help him make high-quality meth under the nose of Walt’s brother-in-law, DEA Agent Hank Schrader (Dean Norris). Eventually, Walt and Jesse ran into men who were even more dangerous than they were, including Gustavo “Gus” Fring (Giancarlo Esposito). But by then, there was nothing that Walt wouldn’t do to survive and come out on top.
Watch Breaking Bad on Netflix.