So there's this book about Shakespeare and pop culture that I have been skimming for a few years now, and early on it talks about some outdoor store hSo there's this book about Shakespeare and pop culture that I have been skimming for a few years now, and early on it talks about some outdoor store having a sale. The advertisements read NOW IS THE WINTER OF OUR DISCOUNT TENTS. And the point is -- have you read Richard III? Maybe, maybe not. Do you get the joke? Probably.
And so reading this book, it struck me that in some ways, Saturday Night Live is not so different. A very minor example: I say "more cowbell!" all the time. Have I seen that skit? Well, I have now, but yesterday? No. And yet.
I never watched much SNL (meow Reasons meow -- seriously, the piece of SNL history I am most aware of is that time Fear showed up as the musical guest and trashed the studio, which is an absurd statement on multiple levels), but I absorbed so much of it anyway without ever realizing it. The [pop-]cultural impact is fairly stunning if that is the sort of thing you're into, and it definitely IS the sort of thing I'm into. The fact that SNL is so pervasive also made the book pretty easy to follow. I was worried that most of it would be lost on me, and although I did stop reading pretty regularly to look up people or skits, I never felt like I had to do it.
Anyway! I like oral histories and inside jokes and weird subcultures, so I was bound to like this book. I did think it slowed down and got a bit repetitive toward the end, and the last chapter on Lorne didn't really need to be there, but skimming's no problem....more
Focused more on behind-the-scenes making-of stories and larger-than-life personalities than Sepinwall's book was; Martin is a reporter, not a critic,Focused more on behind-the-scenes making-of stories and larger-than-life personalities than Sepinwall's book was; Martin is a reporter, not a critic, and although you can find this stuff scattered around the internet (in GQ, mainly) I felt like there was a lot more New here. (Still an intro, though, especially to later shows.) I read it quickly and really enjoyed it, but.... but.... every once in a while, there'd be a comment. And okay, so I realize this book is called "Difficult Men." I realize it is about hour-long serialized dramas. I don't dispute that those are Good Shows, and the fact that they (that is, the shows this dude chose to write about) are by and about men isn't up for debate, nor is it necessarily a mark against them. But something in the attitude really started to grate on me, that the author would lament the lack of women making television while talking to female producers, while kind of off-handedly mentioning abuse allegations, while being super condescending about the lady-focused shows of the time. Sex and the City had as much to do it with making HBO what it is today as the Sopranos did but lol ladies, amirite?? If you just want to write a book about dudes, fine, write about them, it's a valid take, but don't pretend it's because you have no other choice and you're super broken up about it....more
Ironically enough, I probably would have enjoyed this more if I liked TV less. Or at least knew less about it? But I really didn't get anything out ofIronically enough, I probably would have enjoyed this more if I liked TV less. Or at least knew less about it? But I really didn't get anything out of this book. I found it a fairly shallow treatment of television history and a largely uncompelling rehash of the plots of the shows it discussed. That said, I've been reading Sepinwall since he was writing about the Sopranos, and I'm an obsessive re-watcher of television series, and people for whom those things are not true would, I'd wager, find a lot more value here. That all said, it serves as a good-enough intro to TV of this period and was a fast read, plus any book with even a few Deadwood quotes is going to make me smile. ...more