July 11, 2013
Why Is the Golden Age of TV So…Dark?

Brett Martin has always been a magazine writer, not a TV critic. But after writing a behind-the-scenes companion to The Sopranos for HBO in 2007, he felt sure that something profound was happening in the world of television: Since the late 1990s, a wave of hour-long dramas had been scrapping the rules of traditional TV by introducing complicated characters and raising the quality—in terms of production, writing, and visuals—to a cinematic level.
In his new book, Difficult Men, Martin calls this era the “Third Golden Age” of TV (following its early days in the ’50s and the birth of network dramas in the ’80s).
According to Martin, The Sopranos' James Gandolfini was “the man on whose broad, burdened shoulders the Third Golden Age was borne into our lives.” Tony Soprano was the first in a line of male antiheroes—followed by several more of what Martin refers to as “difficult men,” like The Wire's Omar Little, Dexter's Dexter Morgan, Mad Men's Don Draper, Breaking Bad's Walter White, Boardwalk Empire's Nucky Thompson, and others—who challenged audiences' expectations of a main character. These were complicated male leads whose actions can be described as morally ambiguous at best. And not only have viewers tuned in to watch these men, but they actually root for them—questionable behavior and all.
Read more. [Image: HBO; AMC]

Why Is the Golden Age of TV So…Dark?

Brett Martin has always been a magazine writer, not a TV critic. But after writing a behind-the-scenes companion to The Sopranos for HBO in 2007, he felt sure that something profound was happening in the world of television: Since the late 1990s, a wave of hour-long dramas had been scrapping the rules of traditional TV by introducing complicated characters and raising the quality—in terms of production, writing, and visuals—to a cinematic level.

In his new book, Difficult Men, Martin calls this era the “Third Golden Age” of TV (following its early days in the ’50s and the birth of network dramas in the ’80s).

According to Martin, The Sopranos' James Gandolfini was “the man on whose broad, burdened shoulders the Third Golden Age was borne into our lives.” Tony Soprano was the first in a line of male antiheroes—followed by several more of what Martin refers to as “difficult men,” like The Wire's Omar Little, Dexter's Dexter Morgan, Mad Men's Don Draper, Breaking Bad's Walter White, Boardwalk Empire's Nucky Thompson, and others—who challenged audiences' expectations of a main character. These were complicated male leads whose actions can be described as morally ambiguous at best. And not only have viewers tuned in to watch these men, but they actually root for them—questionable behavior and all.

Read more. [Image: HBO; AMC]

  1. matthurst reblogged this from laurinleonard and added:
    Why Is the “Golden Age of TV” so dark? via theatlantic: (h/t mediametrics): Preach it brother.
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