It's hard to imagine what the world of television would look like if The Sopranos hadn't come along in the late 90s. In addition to being the series that kicked off the golden age of television we currently inhabit, The Sopranos is directly linked to several contemporary television hits. Without writer Matthew Weiner gaining massive exposure and respect for his time on The Sopranos, we might not have gotten Mad Men. If you removed Mad Men from the television mosaic, AMC probably wouldn't have greenlit Breaking Bad, which immediately kills Better Call Saul. The list goes on, but you get the picture. Even though Tony Sopranos' criminal enterprise was only a "glorified crew" within the show's narrative, The Sopranos is still the godfather of prestige television.
However, even though most of us realized that The Sopranos was destined for brilliance after watching the pilot, Michael Imperioli didn't think the show was going to be a cultural phenomenon.
"When I read the pilot, I wasn't like 'This is gonna change television.' I mean, it was okay!" Imperioli recalls in a new interview with The A.V. Club's own Saloni Gajjar. "I'm not being facetious, really."
Elaborating on his initial hesitance, Imperioli says he couldn't tell if The Sopranos was supposed to be a spoof, a comedy, or what… not to mention the fact that at the turn of the 21st century, an HBO series didn't exactly bring to mind the glamor it does today.