Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Revolution Was Televised: The Cops, Crooks, Slingers and Slayers Who Changed TV Drama Forever” as Want to Read:
The Revolution Was Televised: The Cops, Crooks, Slingers and Slayers Who Changed TV Drama Forever
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Revolution Was Televised: The Cops, Crooks, Slingers and Slayers Who Changed TV Drama Forever

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  4,446 ratings  ·  480 reviews
A mob boss in therapy. An experimental, violent prison unit. The death of an American city, as seen through a complex police investigation. A lawless frontier town trying to talk its way into the United States. A corrupt cop who rules his precinct like a warlord. The survivors of a plane crash trying to make sense of their disturbing new island home. A high school girl by ...more
Kindle Edition, 398 pages
Published November 9th 2012 by
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Revolution Was Televised, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Paul I don't know what Dana and Cristobal are talking about, I feel like it absolutely tells you the endings and key plot points of every one of these show…moreI don't know what Dana and Cristobal are talking about, I feel like it absolutely tells you the endings and key plot points of every one of these shows.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
really liked it Average rating 4.00  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,446 ratings  ·  480 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Revolution Was Televised: The Cops, Crooks, Slingers and Slayers Who Changed TV Drama Forever
Jun 18, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Last week I was reading the chapter about The Sopranos in which the author highly praises James Gandolfini’s performance as Tony. Galdolfini died the next day. That’s one of those odd coincidences that I could live without.

TV critic Alan Sepinwall writes the popular HitFix blog What's Alan Watching? and here he takes a look at a dozen shows that revolutionized television since the late ‘90s. Oz, The Sopranos, The Wire, Deadwood, The Shield, Lost, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, 24, Battlestar Galactic
mark monday
in his prologue, Sepinwall discusses antecedents to the more modern shows that have created the most recent Golden Age of Television - the third or fourth such age, I think. the author points out how the foundation for such things as the season-long storyline, dark and ambiguous characterization, creative forms of storytelling, and narratives that exist to challenge rather than to provide comfort were present in such landmark shows as Hill Street Blues, St. Elsewhere, and Twin Peaks. (view spoil ...more
Nov 09, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, media
This is an excellent analysis of twelve shows that ushered in the new golden age of television that we are currently enjoying.

I've been reading Alan Sepinwall's columns for several years and was thrilled he'd written a book about some of my favorite TV shows, including The Wire, The Sopranos, Deadwood, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Mad Men, Lost, Battlestar Galactica and Friday Night Lights. Other shows discussed in the book are Oz, The Shield, 24 and Breaking Bad, in addition to a prologue that li
Doug Cutchins
Dec 31, 2012 rated it really liked it
Two of my favorite online writers and podcasters are Linda Holmes and Bill Simmons, so when both endorsed Sepinwall's new book, I knew I needed to read it. I've watched exactly half of the 12 shows that he surveys in this excellent book, so it was an exercise in both reviewing familiar territory and exploring new lands that I had not yet ventured into.

The book is excellent. Sepinwall somehow provides more or less then same information about each show (concept, writing, pitching, casting, pilot,
Dec 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
I love reading (and writing) about good television, and thoroughly enjoyed Alan Sepinwall's doing the same. One of the best things I can say about these essays--one for each show he focuses on--is that I wanted pretty much all of them to be longer. I learned a lot about how each show came to be on and off the air (though of course there are conflicting accounts depending on who you ask in many cases). It confirms the vague impression I've had of current TV that the reason so many amazing shows g ...more
John Cooper
Feb 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
For several years, Alan Sepinwall's blog, first at the New Jersey Star Ledger and then at, has been the site I visit right after watching an intense episode of my favorite serial drama. Sepinwall practically invented the practice of reviewing individual episodes of a TV series, an invaluable service in an era when television shows pack a level of depth and ambiguity that only movies used to have. In this book, he visits a dozen series that expanded how television approaches the storyt ...more
Dec 11, 2012 rated it it was ok
"The Revolution Was Televised" is mostly useful as a collection of parsed interviews that the author conducted with the creators/writers/producers of the various shows lionized therein, including, but not limited to: The Wire, Deadwood , Lost, Battlestar Galactica , Mad Men , and above all else (in the author's mind, at least) The Sopranos .

This book's failings are not just due to Sepinwall's home-town cheerleading for The Sopranos (a show with two pretty good seasons an
Jason Pettus
This book used to be on my to-read list, which for some reason I then forgot about, but then was reminded of this week, and with all four of the other books I'm currently reading going immediately on hold when this arrived from the library, as I ate through the entire 450 pages in a single day. And the reason for that is because the book concerns a subject near and dear to my heart, a subject that a lot of people are fascinated by these days, which is the rise of the "Peak TV" era at the turn of ...more
Jul 28, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: on-story, non-fiction
A solid, largely interesting look at the context and impact of a handful of shows I respect (The Wire, Deadwood, The Sopranos, Battlestar Galactica), a handful of shows I like well enough (Friday Night Lights, Breaking Bad, 24), a handful of shows that, for whatever reasons, rank somewhere on the scale of dislike to indifference (Mad Men, Lost, Buffy), one show of which I had no prior knowledge (Oz), and one show I love heart and soul (The Shield).

Not that it’s 1-for-12 though. (Or 4-for-12, or
Apr 22, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: usa
Alan Sepinwall started out as a TV critic back in the mid-90s, when most people still couldn't conceive that there was anything on TV you could write enough about to earn the title "critic". Then came the new wave of US TV drama in the late 90s and throughout the 00s, with shows that tried to use the medium to tell stories that no other medium could; complex, ambitious, character-driven, taking months or even years to unfold and add to themsleves, tackling real-life issues from the personal to t ...more
Nov 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
It's a remarkable coincidence that the theme of the television shows Alan Sepinwall chooses to write about for his book is: right people, right place, right time. Sepinwall himself, widely considered one of the best TV critics out there (his reviews are a must-read for me and I'm not in the minority here), certainly lucked out to be at the right place (writing for the NJ Star-Ledger and internet boards just as the net was blowing up) at the right time (the golden age of television). Thus, he is ...more
I gave this 4 stars because I've been reading Sepinwall's insightful reviews for years and I'm glad he decided to write a book. I especially liked the chapter on Mad Men, although I didn't learn much new since I'm such a big fan. I haven't watched all the shows he writes about but I'm thinking of getting Friday Night Lights on DVD now that I know more about it. I also really liked the chapter on The Sopranos (one of my all time favorite shows) and Sepinwall's analysis of the controversial ending ...more
Jul 08, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
2016 holiday read!

A very good and interesting read on the shows that helped TV be what it is toady. It was between this and Difficult Men, but I decided to go for this because I'd seen more of the shows covered in this book and it looks like Difficult Men mostly covers The Sopranos.

I feel like I should point out though, the chapters on shows you haven't seen will potentially spoil the TV show for you (if you plan on watching it eventually). It's not done with malice and intention, but you can't
Nov 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
Alan Sepinwall is my favourite TV critic and his book about the 12 most influential drama series of the current era feels like it was written just for me. I thought I knew most of these shows inside out already but Sepinwall's interviews with the creators on the development process was fascinating, teaching me things I don't think I would be able to find anywhere else. If you are a fan of any of the shows discussed within, this is a must read. ...more
Dec 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
3.5 stars, but I'm going to give 4 for the writing. It's a very fun book to read - especially since we (wife & I) watch a lot of TV, and so I've seen more than a few of those shows, and I'm planning to watch a further few in the near future.

I was surprised to find out that Breaking Bad was less planned out in advance than I had thought. I was NOT exactly surprised that Whedon was the one creator who did not make the time to talk with Sepinwall.

It's a very interesting look at some TV shows that
Jul 07, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: cannonball-10
It was nearly impossible for me to separate my reactions to the work that Sepinwall did do from what it could have been. It was part of the reason I was a bit underwhelmed by the book, something that emmalita and I share. But I should perhaps back up a little first because Alan Sepinwall did tackle a large mountain of a topic that is going to be at the center of the discussion of what pop culture and television are and can be moving forward.

Full review:
Dec 12, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: owned
Wow, everybody just loves this book! I liked it too, mind, but the ideas behind it weren't terribly new to me (I have been discussing the "revolution" phenomenon with other television fans for years, if not in so many words). Sepinwall's greatest contribution to the debate were the interviews, as that was something only he himself could do, but that just made it a good book, not a four-star-good one. Also, there were what I couldn't help but see as three major flaws.

1. First, a mention--somewher
Jun 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
At the end of April, I took a joyous vacation to the Big Island of Hawaii with my family. After 9 days of golf, snorkeling, Mai Tais and a dangerous lack of consonant variety, we were congratulating ourselves for going the whole trip without once turning on the TV. We reveled in our collective sophistication and sense of adventure...then I paused, and went back to reading my book about television.

Alan Sepinwall is a TV critic whose articles I have read and enjoyed for years and The Revolution of
Feb 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a book that does exactly what it promises to do: Sepinwall devotes a chapter apiece to some of the innovative dramas that changed the way that television engaged with the public in the new millenium. Each chapter works as a standalone piece - if you just want Sepinwall's take on Buffy or Breaking Bad, you don't have to read the rest of the book - but certain themes do develop in the course of the book. The Shield brought a complex antihero to cable networks, but only after HBO blazed a t ...more
Feb 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Alan Sepinwall's thesis in The Revolution was Televised - that a collection of tv shows in the past 15 years represent a sea change in the medium - is hardly groundbreaking. The excitement generated by many of the shows Sepinwall deals with has been widely lauded - and more of less everywhere you hear the TV commentariat proclaiming that TV is (capable of) displacing film and literature as the grown up, serious medium for the masses. (*in fact it might have been interesting if Sepinwall had purs ...more
Dec 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
There is a scene in the show Portlandia when the main characters decide to kill some time before a dinner party by watching the pilot episode of Battlestar Galactica, one of the shows Alan Sepinwall covers in this book.

Twenty four hours later, we find the characters still sitting on the couch, unshowered, having missed the dinner party, wondering to each other if they should move or just continue watching the show.

As somebody who has never watched an episode of Battlestar Galactica, I wondered a
Nov 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I purchased this e-book from Amazon after hearing good comments about it on the NPR podcast
and I am glad I did.

This book covers the creation, development, and execution of several of the seminal television series of the last 8 years. The stories are fascinating and they give the reader a better idea of how the television production business is so often based on luck.

The book covers different network and cable shows from Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Lost and 24
Dec 19, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I didn't read all of this book, only the chapters covering the shows I had watched.

Overall, I found it quite enjoyable. There are a lot of great stories and details about the creation/evolution of these shows. If you are a die-hard fan of a particular show, there may not be a lot of new material here (I found the Mad Men and Buffy chapters a trifle thin, but those seem to be the only chapters where the author was unable to obtain new interviews with the head creatives. Damn you Weiner and Whedo
Nov 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Warning: If you don't want to be spoiled, don't read this book.

Advice: If you haven't watched the shows he writes about, you're missing out.

It's been years since I watched Oz, The Sopranos, Buffy, and Deadwood. Reading the book made me want to watch them again, and this time, I'll have a better appreciation for what the creators were trying to do.

The book is full of insider information, not just about the shows but about how television gets made.

Highly recommended.

Patrick Brown
A fun and sometimes surprising history of a certain kind of TV show. If you're into any of the shows in the book, I highly recommend it. The chapters can sometimes feel a bit too summary focused, but otherwise, a fun read. I found the chapters on Friday Night Lights and The Wire -- both shows I loved -- very interesting, but I liked the chapter on Buffy The Vampire Slayer, which I never watched, equally fun. ...more
Benoit Lelièvre
I liked that book. But I'm not sure whether I would've found it more interesting if hadn't experienced the cultural revolution of television firsthand.

There's maybe two hundred page worth of cultural context, anecdotes and testimonies in this bad boy that were 100% new and enlightening to me. The Chris Albrecht HBO era, AMC struggling for relevance and throwing itself at original content, Tom Fontana, the Holy trinity of Davids, that sort of stuff. Otherwise, The Revolution Was Televised felt l
Tom Stamper
Mar 08, 2018 rated it liked it
Sepinwall names 12 shows that he feels are modern day classics. Oz, The Sopranos, The Wire, Deadwood, The Shield, Lost, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, 24, Battlestar Galactica, Friday Night Lights, Mad Men, and Breaking Bad.

The writing is a combination of plot lines, commentary, with a mix of interviews by the creators, and the origin stories. You not only learn a lot about the specific shows, but you get an idea of the rigors of producing actual episodes. He also explains how Rockford Files, Hill S
Sally Shrem
Jan 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
I have a lot to say about this book but I'll try to keep this as short and comprehensive as I can.

I should point out that I did skim or skip a few chapters - either because I didn't want to read any spoilers (and you should consider that if you want to read this book) or because I didn't care about a particular show (like Oz and Battlestar Gallactica).

But the majority of the book that I did read ? Wow.
I was nervous this might end up being half summarization and half pre-production stories but
Jan 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: critical readers
Recommended to Brent by: this fine author
Breathless, but insightful.
Dec 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
A really interesting read for any moderate-to-hardcore television fan, especially from the last couple of decades, this book does a concise but thorough job of outlining the history, inspiration, and production process of 12 of the most critically-acclaimed shows of the newest golden age in television, including:

The Sopranos
The Wire
The Shield
Buffy The Vampire Slayer
Battlestar Galactica
Friday Night Lights
Mad Men
Breaking Bad.

As a devoted fan of about half these, someone who's seen
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Difficult Men: Behind the Scenes of a Creative Revolution: From The Sopranos and The Wire to Mad Men and Breaking Bad
  • Easy Riders, Raging Bulls
  • All the Pieces Matter: The Inside Story of The Wire
  • Top of the Rock: Inside the Rise and Fall of Must See TV
  • Live from New York: An Oral History of Saturday Night Live
  • The Sopranos Sessions
  • Down and Dirty Pictures: Miramax, Sundance, and the Rise of Independent Film
  • I Like to Watch: Arguing My Way Through the TV Revolution
  • The Boy Who Saw In Colours
  • A Walk Among the Tombstones (Matthew Scudder, #10)
  • Best. Movie. Year. Ever.: How 1999 Blew Up the Big Screen
  • Made Men: The Story of Goodfellas
  • Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted: And All the Brilliant Minds Who Made The Mary Tyler Moore Show a Classic
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Vol. 2: Once Bitten
  • This Isn't Happening: Radiohead's "Kid A" and the Beginning of the 21st Century
  • Football for a Buck: The Crazy Rise and Crazier Demise of the USFL
  • Eight Million Ways to Die (Matthew Scudder, #5)
  • Batman: Three Jokers
See similar books…
Alan Sepinwall has been writing about television for close to 20 years, first as an online reviewer of "NYPD Blue," then as a TV critic for The Star-Ledger (Tony Soprano's hometown paper), now as author of the popular blog What's Alan Watching? on Sepinwall's episode-by-episode approach to reviewing his favorite TV shows "changed the nature of television criticism," according to Slate, ...more

News & Interviews

Need another excuse to treat yourself to a new book this week? We've got you covered with the buzziest new releases of the day. To create our...
6 likes · 2 comments
“Once upon a time, mystery fans had to solve puzzles on their own; now, you not only didn’t need to be the one to solve it, you didn’t even need to be hanging around on the website where someone else had solved it. An Ana Lucia flashback episode in the second season showed Jack’s father, Christian, visiting a blonde Australian woman. Not long after it aired, I saw someone on the Television Without Pity message boards passing along a theory they had read on a different site suggesting that this woman was Claire’s mother, that Christian was her father, and that Jack and Claire were unwitting half-siblings. I hadn’t connected those dots myself, but the theory immediately made sense to me. When I interviewed Cuse that summer, he mentioned Christian Shephard, and I said, “And he’s Claire’s father, too, right?” Cuse looked like he was about to have a heart attack.” 5 likes
“We’d been going home with television every night for years, but suddenly we had reason to respect it in the morning.” 4 likes
More quotes…