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!!!
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.
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
It seems like the narrator's voice keeps getting lower and lower as sentences/paragraphs end. Impossibly to listen to in the car with slight road noise. Liked the historical aspects of revisiting all my favorite shows. Went back and binged on all 5 seasons of The Wire.
I'll keep this short but to the point. as much interest as I have in the topics this book covers I felt extremely unsatisfied with the overall story. What I was expecting was the author to start with the conception of each series and go through the process of explaining everything from start to finish. What I received was pieces that never fully captured my interest. The author jumps back-and-forth between shows explaining conversations or thoughts of the writers. He never stays with one TV show. The book starts out with the sopranos, you start to take a genuine interest and then it switches to something else and then switches to something else comes back he makes comments about the Sopranos goes to a different topic and continues down that path throughout the whole book. I could not keep track of who was to where the timeline fell in the place because it skipped around for too much. My example is right in the middle of a story talking about a specific show The author starts telling you about a Nother show takes you forward in time brings you back in time doesn't continue where he left off.
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.
HBO and AMC
Getting into the heads of the creators of the shows I love just helps me let them live on. I found it interesting.
He does different voices, like James Gandolfino as Tony Soprano.
Difficult Men...and Why we love them
The only time I seemed to gloss over a section is when he was describing The Wire - which I've never seen. But for the shows I know, it was fascinating. This would be best appreciated by a TV aficionado. It was also interesting to hear about the struggles some of the creators had to get their shows picked up - sort of an Inside the Actors Studio sort of way.
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.
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.
Modern Television Defined
The narrative inside HBO and FX and how it played out in TV shows they offered to the public
No characters really
Modern Television Defined
There's a lot of interesting information even if you're not a huge television fan. It's an interesting book if you're a fan of any of the modern anti-hero series of today.
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