The title of this fascinating study refers to the antiheroic male protagonists of some recent popular television series (Mad Men’s Don Draper, The Shield’s Vic Mackey, The Sopranos’ Tony Soprano), but it also, to a slightly lesser degree, refers to some of the men who made those shows—David Chase, for example, the demanding creator of The Sopranos, and David Simon, the ambitious creator of The Wire.
The author’s premise, that around 1999 there came a third golden age of television (The Sopranos debuted in ’99), might not sit well with all readers, but the argument that a new kind of TV series started to flourish around that time is undeniably true. Can you imagine any earlier point in television history when Breaking Bad, The Wire, Mad Men, Six Feet Under, and Deadwood could have existed?
Martin combines standard making-of stuff (behind-the-scenes production battles, stories about the stars, etc.) with in-depth profiles of the people who, in a very real sense, changed the modern face of television. Fans of the shows he discusses, and especially those interested in television history, should consider this a must-read.