My father LOVED this show. He passed away in 2002, and during his last few years, The Sopranos was one of the things he loved to talk about. He was a Hudson County boy from Bayonne, so the whole milieu was something he was familiar with. He also loved shows and movies about gangsters, especialy Jewish gangsters in the Meyer Lansky mode, so the Hesh character must have appealed to him a lot. Maybe he related to Tony as a guy with a lot of dreams and lot of disappointments. He just loved the idea of a gangster going to a shrink.
What tends to crack me up about this, is that my father was somewhat prudish when it came to language. If I EVER used a "shit" or "fuck" around the house, I would be told not to talk dirty, so the idea of him sitting and enjoying Tony and the boys and their extremely colorful use of expletives is kind of amusing.
When the show went on, I didn't have HBO or a DVD player, so I didn't start watching till the show was almost over. By that time we did have a DVD player and the Sainted Netflix.
I appreciated the show for great acting and writing, but I don't think I really enjoyed it. I think the balance of dark to humor wasn't a good fit for me and some of it was just too real. Characters like Richie Abrile and Ralphie Cifaretto just make me incredibly uncomfortable, and the ones who didn't scare me mostly annoyed me. Adriana, Christopher, JANICE! Don't even get me started on how much I wanted to smack Janice every single time she was on the screen.
Even characters I found fun to watch or managed to care about would find ways to piss me off, and that sense that something really bad was always just around the corner made the show difficult for me. I don't think there was one character I was able to like unconditionally....MAYBE Silvio, and that's mostly because he never stopped being Little Steven as far as I was concerned.
We made it up to about the middle of season 6, I think. My personal point where I could't go on was the plot about Vito. Once I'd spoiled myself via Wiki on how that was going to end up, I just couldn't go through with it, so when the whole massive hype about the last episode was going on, I was pretty detached from it.
I can't argue that it wasn't a great show that definitely paved the way for other shows that I do/did love, but for me it was never particularly enjoyable. On the other hand it made my father happy and that is very important to me.
And I will say that opening credit sequence is one of the best song/image combos ever.