BOOKS: A Look at TV’s Third Golden Age

Posted by juliewbp, Reviewed by Andrew

Difficult Men: Behind the Scenes of a Creative Revolution: From The Sopranos and The Wire to Mad Men and Breaking Bad by Brett Martin

Difficult Men by Brett Martin is a great exploration of TV’s Third Golden Age, as it’s come to be known. On the cover is Tony Soprano and Walter White so the reader would be easily tricked into thinking that the book is about the anti-hero that dominates current TV. It is actually about the men who created these characters.

David Chase, creator of the Sopranos, is portrayed as a very serious and depressed failed filmmaker. He never gave TV any pedestal and always saw himself as an auteur like his French film making idols. He worked on numerous TV shows before he got his shot to truly change television when HBO green lighted the Sopranos. Since then, nothing has been the same.

Stories on television changed from being episodic “problem of the week” bits to more complex story arcs involving an ensemble of characters and multiple narratives. These TV shows, most notably The Wire, have been compared in their complexity to novels. It works. Thirteen hour-long episodes compared to 22 episodes normally on network television provides for a tighter narrative that, almost paradoxically, gives a more expansive story. It also lends more detail and can spend more time on things that would normally be left on the cutting room floor for feature films.

The stories of the creative struggle and success of these writers who created a whole new genre is just as interesting as the characters they created. They ushered in an era of television where the writer is king, unlike in films where the director is king.

Difficult Men is a great read. I highly recommend it.


Copies of Difficult Men are available on our shelves and via

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One Comment on “BOOKS: A Look at TV’s Third Golden Age”

  1. […] The Butcher Posted by juliewbp, Reviewed by Andrew Difficult Men: Behind the Scenes of a Creative Revolution: […]

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