PN 1992.8 .S4 M2655 2013
“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.
A new breed of auteur – given the chance to make art in a famously maligned medium – took full advantage, sometimes proving to be nearly as conflicted, idiosyncratic, and “difficult” as the complicated protagonists that came to define the genre. No longer concerned with creating likable characters, self-contained episodes, or subjects that were deemed safe and appropriate, shows such as The Wire, The Sopranos, Mad Men, Deadwood, and The Shield 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 the 1970s, television became the place to go to see stories of the triumph and betrayals of the American Dream at the beginning of the twenty-first century.
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 TV but also a cultural watershed. Difficult Men features extensive interviews with all the major players, including David Chase (The Sopranos), David Simon and Ed Burns (The Wire), David Milch (NYPD Blue, Deadwood), and Alan Ball (Six Feet 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 TV has distinguished itself dramatically from the networks and emerged from the shadow of film to become a truly significant and influential part of our culture.”
– publisher description