One of the most memorable scenes from The Sopranos occurs in the first season of the series, when Tony Soprano—played by the late James Gandolfini—murders a snitch while visiting colleges with his daughter Meadow (Jamie-Lynn Sigler). According to co-stars and Talking Sopranos podcast hosts Michael Imperioli and Steve Schirripa, HBO fought against the scene, fearing it would turn viewers off of the series. Speaking with The Daily Beast to promote their podcast, Imperioli and Schirripa recalled how HBO didn’t seem to understand why the scene, which occurs in the fifth episode, was so important to establishing Tony’s character. “HBO didn’t want him to kill the snitch when he took his daughter to college,” said Schirripa. “And they said, ‘There’s no way, a leading man never murdered someone before, we’ll lose the audience.’ And David Chase said, ‘No, if he doesn’t kill the guy we’ll lose the audience because that’s what he does.’”
Imperioli and Schirripa also discussed the homophobic behavior of many characters in the series, specifically with regards to Vito Spatafore—a closeted member of the Sopranos crime family, played by Joseph R. Gannascoli. Although some viewers may find the material problematic, Imperioli maintains that it “comes with the territory”:
These guys, that’s some of their mentality. I think it would be a bigger horror to make them PC and cleaned up. I think that would be a big disservice to the audience. And I think most people understand that. Most people know that these guys are criminals, they’re not the brightest people in the world, they’re not particularly educated and they have a lot of bias.
The actors pointed out that viewers are generally more upset with Imperioli’s character, Christopher, for inadvertently killing a dog in the season four episode “The Strong, Silent Type.” While strung out on heroin with his girlfriend Adriana in a particularly disturbing yet darkly comedic scene, Christopher realizes he sat on her dog, Cosette, and suffocated her to death. “She must’ve crawled under there for warmth,” he says as Adriana understandably loses her shit.
“Fans take that very personal and get angry,” Imperioli said.