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Difficult Men: Behind the Scenes of a Creative Revolution: From The Sopranos and The Wire to Mad Men and Breaking Bad Paperback – July 29, 2014
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Top Customer Reviews
Author Brett Martin answers that 'why' and 'how' for many of the current high-quality shows we take totally for granted. The 'showrunners' behind "The Sopranos," "The Wire," "Mad Men," etc., are creative producers at the top of their game, but none of them walked into a studio and just started making shows; their personal timelines date back decades, with a surprising amount of collaboration between them. Each had to overcome obstacles and a lack of network faith.
Martin does not recap show plots and stories. Rather it walks the reader through the decisions, proposals, and occasional lucky breaks and coincidences that led to each show's genesis - FX's "The Shield" was greenlit just before 9/11 for example; another two weeks, and it's probably never made. So it's not about the shows, but the offices that created the shows - it's much more interesting than that might sound.
Each of these shows required a complete commitment from its creator - and a lot of breaks in-between. Anybody who ever thinks "oh, creative people are just lucky" is an idiot. They made their own 'luck' with a single-minded devotion and talent that 99 percent of people can't relate to, and Martin's biographical accounts fill in those blanks.Read more ›
I'd wager that nearly 70 percent of the book is about The Sopranos, clearly the show that spawned what Martin calls "the creative revolution." No argument here. Matthew Weiner of Mad Men has a Sopranos' lineage. And Vince Gilligan has said that there would be no Walter White without Tony Soprano. Additional kudos go to David Simon's The Wire, also a groundbreaking show. Unfortunately, however, Martin gives culturally significant series like Six Feet Under, Breaking Bad: The Fifth Season, and others short shrift.
For some reason, Martin keeps bringing everything back to The Sopranos, and often its creator David Chase. Difficult Men spends far too much time on the show that spawned the Creative Revolution and not enough on the other shows of that revolution. Yes, The Sopranos was important. We get it. As I read the book I kept asking myself, Why not just write a book about The Sopranos and another, more balanced one on what Martin calls The Third Golden Age of Television? Maybe the publisher recommended that Martin add popular shows to the subtitle of the book for SEO purposes?
A few pet peeves: I lost count of the number of times that the author dropped words like auteur and tropes. Some of that seemed a bit gratuitous. And why Bryan Cranston is on the cover of this book is beyond me. This is mostly a book about The Sopranos and the impact it has had.
Difficult men is a book about the new golden age of television, focusing on the male creators, writers and showrunners, and specifically concentrating on The Sopranos. There is mention to a fair degree about The Wire, and Mad Men, some discussion of Deadwood and The Shield, but other than that there is not much in depth mention of Breaking Bad, Damages, Dexter...
One of the only actors to be detailed in the book is James Gandolfini. His passing this month makes these aspects of the book particularly enthralling.
The book focuses most on the difficult men behind the shows rather than the difficult men the shows are about. So this is more about David Chase, David Simon, Ed Burns and Matthew Weiner than it is about Tony Soprano, Don Draper, or Mr. White.
I listen to Terry Gross on NPR. If I watch a series on DVD or Blu-ray I watch the extras and listen to the commentary. So there was not much in this book that was brand new for me. The author does not really go too far past obvious observations regarding creative types and their motivations. So this book is not going to spark any debates about the author's thesis regarding men's psyches because he does not really go there.
If you never pay attention to DVD extras or entertainment news, and you are fan of HBO shows in particular than this book will provide you with a lot of fascinating behind the scenes information.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
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. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Bror Erickson
I enjoyed it. I like how they highligted the transistion into the better writers going to hbo.
Received on time. Thank you Amazon
Intro is too long and doe not give us anything new or interesting. Later there are tidbits of information here and there, but writing is mostly on the tabloid journalism level. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Branko Dimitrijevic
Absolutely awesome. Fantastic and engaging especially if you are a TV fan.Published 10 months ago by Danny E. Brinkle
Insightful, provocative and thought-provoking (particularly if you like to think about how culture changes the audience and the audience changes the culture). Read morePublished 10 months ago by C. Chubb
What a great read. Juicy gossip wrapped around beautifully constructed sentences.Published 10 months ago by Deedra
The book is an interesting read on the Golden Age of TV. However, likely because of when it was written, there was less on my favorite, Breaking Bad, and more focus on The Wire... Read morePublished 11 months ago by Robert Daniel
Great cerebral narrative at the authors of yesterday's and today's hit Television shows, and how their psyches and drives bled into the worlds that they created and the characters... Read morePublished 12 months ago by J. Blalock