6. Season five
We fuck with Steve Buscemi as much as the next guy, but the blandness of this season is ultimately tied to his character, Tony Soprano’s cousin Tony Blundetto. As much as he seemed like a habitual line-stepper — in the mafia world, that means killing folk he probably shouldn’t — dude seemed more like an embarrassment of a relative than a true threat to Tony’s place in the mob.
5. Season two
This felt like an Italian homicidal acid trip. Focusing on character development rather than plot, it looked so deeply into its own navel it got lost in the lint it found there. (Plus we’re still coming to grips with Big Puss getting popped.)
4. Season three
Introducing Ralphie was like dropping U.S. troops in the Middle East — there was no telling exactly how things would play out, but we knew it’d be explosive. And it damn sure was. We’re among the rare fans of Jackie Jr., a himbo gone bad who showed the world exactly what happens when a doofus heartthrob gets mixed up with some unsavory goons.
3. Season four
Before Breaking Bad redefined the “we’re White, married, and hate each other” fight between a sociopath and a housewife, this season’s finale, “Whitecaps,” laid the foundation, as Tony and Carmela finally went head to head.
2. Season one
The inaugural season kicked off our obsession with this particularly toxic family — and housed the series’ best episode, “College.” This was the moment that sociopathic White men, and their downward journey, became essential to Prestige TV. What a legacy.
1. Season six
TV shows hardly ever get the endings right; The Sopranos’ finale is a rare exception that places the series among television’s greatest triumphs. By the end, we knew these characters in and out: We’d been in Tony’s nightmares, in Carmela’s fantasies, and in creator David Chase’s morbid neuroses. The final scene smacked like a crowbar to the kneecap; the theories around Tony’s fate became the stuff of internet rabbit holes. The Sopranos’ farewell tour was Jordan in ’98 — every second of the victory lap was worth it. Capisce?