New Orleanian author Brett Martin, who has recently written & produced a few of our favorite Nola articles for national titles like GQ & Bon Appetit, released his latest novel “Difficult Men” earlier this month. Positioned as “Behind the scenes of a creative revolution: from the Sopranos and The Wire to Mad Men and Breaking Bad”, difficult men details the success of those shows solely based on their overly cantankerous characters.
A riveting and revealing look at the shows that helped cable television drama emerge as the signature art form of the twenty-first 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 twenty-first century.”