For Millennials. By Millennials.
The pilot episode of The Sopranos sets the tone up perfectly for what’s to come in the entire show. But, at the time, it was the bravest show anyone had ever seen. And HBO made a very brave decision to tag along with David Chase’s original idea. Each and every one of the characters were unique in their own way, but it was the anti-hero Tony Soprano that truly caught everyone’s eye. However, at the time of the pilot screenings, it was another character that the audience loved. And it’s not the one that you’d expect.
The pilot episode of The Sopranos had a lot of things going on. First, you had a mob boss named Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) going to therapy and complaining about how difficult life is. Secondly, you had him as the head of a very non-traditional mob in new Jersey with Paulie Walnuts (Tony Sirico), Silvio Dante (Steven Van Zandt), and Christopher Moltisanti (Michael Imperioli), which was nothing like what we saw in movies like The Godfather. Third, you had a subplot of Tony trying to stop his Uncle Junior (Dominic Chianese) from whacking a guy at his friend’s restaurant. And then finally, you saw Tony’s own dysfunctional family. It was crazy, to say the least.
However, there was one character from that pilot that the audience loved the most. And surprisingly, it’s not one that you’d expect. It was Kathrine Narducci’s, Charmaine Bucco!
The audience that saw The Sopranos pilot loved Charmaine Bucco the most
In the most recent episode of the Talking Sopranos podcast, Kathrine Narducci appeared as a guest. There, host Michael Imperioli told her that the audience at the pilot screenings rated her character, Charmaine, the highest of all the rest. He said:
HBO started screening the pilot to see if they wanted to go on with the series. They screened it for test audiences. And Charmaine was the highest testing character — the most likable character in the test.
Imperioli further tells how HBO’s test audience loved that Charmaine stood up against the mob so bravely. And Narducci never knew about that, as the podcast host said:
They felt she stood up to the mob, and they liked that. You had principles about standing up to them.
And it was especially an honor for Kathrine because she initially auditioned for the role of Carmela Soprano. However, David Chase, the creator of The Sopranos, later gave that role to the brilliant Edie Falco. But, he was so impressed by Narducci’s character that he created Charmaine Bucco on The Sopranos just for her. And the fact that she stood against the mob so bravely, despite her husband Artie Bucco (John Ventimiglia) being best friends with the most powerful mob boss in New Jersey, truly moved the audience. She loathed them from the very first scene when Christopher and Tony came to meet Uncle Junior at the Vesuvio’s. She told Artie when Tony offered him cruise tickets:
Arthur, please grow up. Does the mind not rebel at any possible scenario under which dentists are sending the don of New Jersey first-class on a Norwegian steamship? Somebody donated their kneecaps for those tickets.