US television and the gender war

Grant McCracken

What would TV look like if it was made by women?

I just downloaded the new book by Brett Martin, Difficult Men, Gifted Women. It gives an insider's view of how cable TV has transformed television with shows like The Wire, The Sopranos, Mad Men, Deadwood and The Shield. (This matters to an anthropologist because as TV goes, so goes American culture.)

In particular, this is the story of 'difficult men', such as David Chase, David Simon, Ed Burns, Matthew Weiner, David Milch and Alan Ball. The implication is that it takes some unholy alliance of the cantankerous and the odd to foment a revolution of this order.

As the publisher puts it on Amazon, these men delivered shows that gave us "narrative inventiveness, emotional resonance, and artistic ambition. No longer necessarily concerned with creating always-likeable characters, plots that wrapped up neatly every episode, or subjects that were deemed safe and appropriate, shows [that] tackled issues of life and death, love and sexuality, addiction, race, violence, and existential boredom".