COLD ITALIAN MEATS DEP'T.
thanks for this! Do I need to watch the Sopranos?
"the thing everyone looked down on them for": Do they, though? For example, Michael Corleone is a hero to, among others, BoJo the Clown, who has cited the "baptism scene" from "The Godfather" as a favorite (a choice he shares with the late and unlamented Muammar Gaddafi and Saddam Hussein).
The thing is, Greater Hollywood has been glamming up thugs, particularly Italian-American thugs, for many years now. I've never watched or otherwise paid any attention to "The Sopranos", so I don't know whether it's like that. What makes "The Irishman" the mobster movie that should (but won't, of course) end all mobster movies is exactly the absence of glamor. I doubt anyone walks away from it thinking of Frank Sheeran or Russell Bufalino as heroes. In the movie, they're vicious bullies who fade into broken old men. (Which, as far as it goes, presumably is historically accurate, regardless of whether Sheeran really did murder Jimmy Hoffa.)
Regarding "The Sopranos", see also John Herrman's Awl piece "An asshole theory of prestige TV":
"Which dysfunctional family do you want to eavesdrop on for eight to twelve hours? To which period of history do you want to apply modern anxieties?? How are we supposed to know which tragedy and which community deserves our tense but cathartic attention? Which middle-aged white antihero can we stand this year???"
Herrman didn't specifically mention Tony Soprano, but he didn't need to. In a way, that's the point: "prestige TV" has given us so many assholes to choose from!