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
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
Love well written and well narrated books of any type.
Inside information about my favorite TV shows. I enjoyed it immensely but if you aren't a fan of these shows then this probably is not a good choice for you.
Easy Riders and Raging Bulls or Pictures of a Revolution. These titles are thematically similar but about movies instead of TV. Both titles are available on Audible and recommended.
Nothing special but well done.
The fact that Stevie Van Zandt was the first choice to portray Tony Soprano.
Fascinating listen if you are a fan of the TV shows discussed.
Very well researched and beautifully written. Like the high level artistic achievement of the TV shows being described, Martin's own work is something worthy of Sebastian Junger or Jon Krakauer. That's not to say there aren't some juicy details exposed about the psychopaths who have been writing the shows we love.
I very much enjoyed the book, although I imagine that it's much more interesting for people who either love the shows it details or are fascinated with tv production in general. For instance, if the book had been about football team owners (a sport I have no interest in) I can't imagine I would have loved it as much as I did, even if it had the same keen writing as this book has. But if you are interested in the subject matter, you will really enjoy the read.
Couldn't finish. Narrator does movie mobster voice for everyone involved in the story, even women. And an American "street" voice for the famously British Idris Elba. Like a faded Sopranos poster in your uncle's basement bar come to life.
Your Brother in Christ
This book is an in-depth look at the “third golden age” of television, its history and the creative impulses that have made T.V. interesting.
I’ll admit I haven’t seen a good many of the shows that Brett talks about. I’m too young for some of them. I also have spent good portions of my life without a T.V. I’m still torn as to whether that was a good thing or a bad thing.
In any case, television has always seemed to be a little flat for me. That changed a bit for me with a show not talked about here, “Sons of Anarchy.” In any case, it was that show that let me know T.V. has changed and I might have reason to sit down and watch, the characters were interesting and the plots were thick. And then came “Breaking Bad!” And it was to understand that show a bit better that I got this book. I was not disappointed.
Brett does a good job of going behind the scenes and talking about the lives of writers and actors and the things they had to overcome in their own lives to finally make T.V. worth watching. He talks about the culture of television making and why so much of it is just uninteresting. He talks about the creation of HBO and how they started to make television and why. Then he shows how producers were able to work on the success of shows like “The Sopranos” and “Dead Wood” to get funding for television shows on primetime.
Even though I hadn’t watched all the shows, it made me want to. Very informative, entertaining, and inspiring. If you are involved in television production, get this book. Do it for the sake of us watching!
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