Television has been many people’s saving grace this past year. Staying at home during the pandemic was a little less daunting thanks to streaming services providing plenty of entertainment for viewers. While companies like Netflix, HBO Max, and Hulu, are releasing new content regularly, some TV fans have been revisiting or discovering older shows they may have missed in the past.
During the COVID-19 quarantine, HBO’s hit series The Sopranos (which premiered on January 10, 1999) has seen a huge surge in viewership. Personally, my family didn’t have HBO when I was growing up, so it was the first show I pulled the trigger on when I signed up for HBO Max. I’m a Goodfellas fan, and Mob Wives was my guilty pleasure in college, so binge-watching the series when I was home 24/7 last year was a no-brainer for me. I was hooked from the first scene. I knew about the premise of the show, but I had a totally different idea of what Tony Soprano would be like. Seeing him, a tough alpha male, sitting across from his therapist as he dealt with his vulnerabilities, guilt, and anxieties made it clear to me from the start that this was peak TV—and I zoomed through all six seasons in less than a month. It’s no wonder why people of all ages are still falling in love with the show now; it’s really the blueprint to many of the great shows we’re all watching today.
While the consumption of media has skyrocketed since last March, the rise of new Sopranos fans is also due to the show being available to stream. HBO Max launched in May 2020, and according to AT&T, it had 17.2 million activated subscribers by the end of the year—and many of those viewers watched The Sopranos. According to an HBO representative, the show’s engagement increased nearly three times during the pandemic and continues to be one of HBO’s most-streamed titles since the launch of HBO Max. GQ reported that the service alone helped increase the show’s viewership by 179 percent in 2020. That availability has allowed a new generation of viewers to access the David Chase series, expanding the fandom even more.
New Sopranos fan pages have also been popping up on social media, and the ones that have been around for years have seen an uptick in followers. Ahead of this week’s MobMovieCon in Atlantic City, Complex had the opportunity to speak to the meme creators behind some of the most popular Sopranos accounts, who shared some insight into what inspires their content, the changes they are seeing, how the pandemic may have accelerated the growth of their pages, and what it’s like to run these pages now that there’s a new wave of fans.