The joy of The Sopranos, which premiered 20 years ago today on Jan. 10, 1999, "lies in its script, so packed with symbolism and clever half-jokes, and the way that its cast executed that script," says Josephine Livingstone. "What is there even left to say?" she adds. "From the beginning, everybody knew that The Sopranos was to be a watershed. There would be before, and there would be after. In every commemorative article about the show, the author inevitably cites the list of prestige shows that followed The Sopranos and that adopted its central conceit of a flawed antihero—Breaking Bad, Mad Men, Deadwood, and so on." Yet the promises of Prestige TV have been wasted in our current glut of TV shows. "Instead, we’re in a weird new era in which everything on TV looks so good that you can’t tell whether it’s prestige or not," she says. "Call it post-prestige television. By this I mean that every show is cut beautifully, every soundtrack is great, and—crucially—every main character is rounded out by psychological flaws that make them seem human." The writing on contemporary television, she adds, is "lusciously easy on the eye, always. But is the writing as good?" Even the best-scripted shows of the past year -- from Killing Eve to The Americans to Atlanta -- can't match The Sopranos in its understated wit and its high-stakes investment in human relationships, she says. "Part of it stems from the way The Sopranos was received and defined by critics," says Livingstone "In its early years, much commentary focused on the show’s brutal depiction of women, which in turn prompted defenses of its sophisticated portrayal of women complicit in evil. But it’s the male critics who have profited the most from the Sopranos-commentary boom—the men who were fascinated by the whole 'flawed antihero' concept and pumped its meaning up to outsize levels." She adds that the legacy of The Sopranos TV criticism is "of a genre almost exclusively manufactured by men, for a male readership, about the nerdy nitty-gritty of a TV show about masculinity. This has contributed, I think, to a new culture of television-making dominated by psychological portraiture, usually focused on men. It has also led to hyper-lush production, at the expense of scriptwriting, simply because it’s easier to throw money at a show than to write a good one. This is the danger of allowing superfans to define the meaning of a television show."