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.
©2013 Brett Martin (P)2013 Blackstone Audio
So loved this book. Brett Martin has capsulated a specific period within the television industry and he refers to it as the Third Golden Age of Television. With that as an umbrella, he successfully connects the dots throughout this exciting period. He takes us behind-the-scenes to learn about these DIFFICULT MEN - the show's creators, the executives (men and women) who oversaw the shows and the primary characters. Keith Szarabajka was the perfect choice to narrate this book. He too sounded like a difficult man.
I was a huge fan of the Sopranos and HBO, and this was a perfect behind the scenes look not only of that show, but also the other shows that made the third golden age of TV. Narrator was great too. I've listened to four other books narrated by Keith Szarabajka and he's the best in the business.
Learn, understand, then decide whether you accept or reject.
This is a behind the scenes look at the people handling the creative process of some of the best shows of the first decade of the 21st century. Basically what you'd love to see in bonus content if you get those shows on DVD.
I enjoyed the writer's room tales but wish the author would have not spent so much time on the Sopranos.
Agree with an earlier review, this book focuses too much on the Sopranos.
As a tv writer since 1975, I found this examination of the excellent television aired on cable recently, and the personalities behind the creativity on those shows fascinating. It's always a miracle when that magic happens....more often than not, the collaboration produces a camel when they intended to create a Triple Crown winner.
An insider's look at the personalities who supported my favorite shows, I admit to envy that I left the game before it became worth playing.
It's definitely a FIVE STAR rating for anyone interested in the development and execution of the included shows---if you admit to owning a tv that only receives PBS and C-Span...download another book.
Not sure. Feel cheated in that most of the content was about the Sopranos. Reading performance was excellent.
Less Sopranos!!! There are only 4 hours left and still no mention of Breaking Bad
My first listen by this performer. Very good. Will look for other titles by same performer.
NO!!!! No more about the Sopranos is needed!!!
OCD over books, listening to 1 a day; ANY genre, fact & fiction. Influenced by Audible reviewers so I keep mine unbiased - FRONT to BLACK!
Don't waste your credit or time on this book if you're looking to learn more about the 3 other shows listed on the cover. The entire first 6-1/2 hours are nothing but "The Sopranos" and James Gandolfini. Don't get me wrong - I enjoyed the show like everyone else. But I liked "The Wire" better, followed by "Mad Men". Both of those shows were much better. "The Sopranos" was merely entertaining while "The Wire" was an autopsy of the social despair and decline of this country. "Breaking Bad", "Sex In The City", "Deadwood", "Six Feet Under" and other great shows are barely mentioned in Brett Martin's nauseating hero-worship of Tony Soprano and producer David Chase (or whatever his job was - it's not even worth a Wikipedia search for me to find out). I could say more, as I often do, but Brett Martin has wasted enough of my time! #REFUND
Anecdotes from writers like Chase, Gilligan, Weiner etc.
In-depth research of Sopranos
In-depth research of Networks: FX, HBO, AMC
Author's liberal bias (oxymoron but still annoying)
False advertisement about Breaking Bad
Overall the book is decent, and I enjoyed the TV writer points of views and TV show production process. Unfortunately, "white men are deeply flawed but all women folk got it right combined w/ glorifying ghetto culture and little hate for the right" got old fast.
In the end decent substance but spoiled by author's bias. Cover of the book falsely advertises any meaningful look in Gilligan's BB.
I enjoyed the book. I actually have the tangible copy but wanted to revisit the content. Again, great story taking us through the ins and outs of what has become the rise of cable... But the narrator was a bit drab.
I would recommend this book to any one that is interested in the development of some of the best television programing of our time.
He made you feel like you were actually listening to the characters.
It made you think. As the characters came to life, you couldn't help but think about the impact that ordinary people can have on so many.
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