A riveting and revealing look at the shows that helped cable television drama emerge as the signature art form of the 21st century
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the landscape of television began an unprecedented transformation. While the networks continued to chase the lowest common denominator, a wave of new shows, first on premium-cable channels like HBO and then basic-cable networks like FX and AMC, dramatically stretched television’s narrative inventiveness, emotional resonance, and artistic ambition. No longer necessarily concerned with creating always-likable characters, plots that wrapped up neatly every episode, or subjects that were deemed safe and appropriate, shows such as The Wire, The Sopranos, Mad Men, Deadwood, The Shield, and more tackled issues of life and death, love and sexuality, addiction, race, violence, and existential boredom. Just as the big novel had in the 1960s and the subversive films of New Hollywood had in 1970s,television shows became the place to go to see stories of the triumph and betrayals of the American Dream at the beginning of the 21st century.
This revolution happened at the hands of a new breed of auteur: the all-powerful writer-showrunner. These were men nearly as complicated, idiosyncratic, and “difficult” as the conflicted protagonists that defined the genre. Given the chance to make art in a maligned medium, they fell upon the opportunity with unchecked ambition.
Combining deep reportage with cultural analysis and historical context, Brett Martin recounts the rise and inner workings of a genre that represents not only a new golden age for television but also a cultural watershed. Difficult Menfeatures extensive interviews with all the major players, including David Chase(The Sopranos), David Simon and Ed Burns (The Wire), Matthew Weiner and Jon Hamm (Mad Men), David Milch (NYPD Blue, Deadwood), and Alan Ball (SixFeet Under), in addition to dozens of other writers, directors, studio executives, actors, production assistants, makeup artists, script supervisors ,and so on. Martin takes us behind the scenes of our favorite shows, delivering never-before-heard story after story and revealing how cable television has distinguished itself dramatically from the networks, emerging from the shadow of film to become a truly significant and influential part of our culture.
We've sent an email with your order details. Order ID #:
To access this title, visit your library in the app or on the desktop website.
Praise TV's third golden age!
Don't get this for Vince Gilligan/Breaking Bad
The author has good writing, and the narrator is pleasant to listen to. He (the narrator) has a blue-collar no-nonsense type of narration that applies well to the subject matter.
What I did not like was the misleading description and cover, you see a photo of Walter White and of Tony Soprano, leading you to assume that the book would cover both characters in-depth.
While fans of Tony Soprano will get a lot of insight into his character development and the mindset of The Sopranos creator David Chase, you don't get anywhere the same amount of detail in Breaking Bad and Vince Gilligan.
The book spends almost half its length discussing David Chase and The Sopranos, the other half on David Simon and The Wire. In comparison, Breaking Bad and Vince Gilligan receive only ~30 minutes of coverage total.