Difficult Men

Brett Martin

Difficult Men by Brett Martin is a riveting and revealing look at how shows such as The Wire, Breaking Bad and The Sopranos, helped US TV drama emerge as the signature art form of the twenty-first century.

3 in stock

Date Published
All orders are sent via Royal Mail and are tracked: choose from standard or premium delivery.

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, a wave of TV shows, first on premium cable channels like HBO and then basic cable networks like FX and AMC, dramatically stretched television’s inventiveness, emotional resonance and ambition. Shows such as The Wire, Breaking Bad, The Sopranos, Mad Men, Deadwood, The Shield tackled issues of life and death, love and sexuality, addiction, race, violence and existential boredom.

Television shows became the place to go to see stories of the triumph and betrayals of the American Dream at the beginning of the twenty-first century.

This revolution happened at the hands of a new breed of auteur: the all-powerful writer-show runner. These were men nearly as complicated, idiosyncratic, and “difficult” as the conflicted protagonists that defined the genre. Given the chance to make art in a maligned medium, they fell upon the opportunity with unchecked ambition.

Difficult Men features extensive interviews with all the major players, including David Chase and James Gandolfini (The Sopranos), David Simon, Dominic West and Ed Burns (The Wire), Vince Gilligan (Breaking Bad), Matthew Weiner and Jon Hamm (Mad Men), David Milch (NYPD Blue, Deadwood) and Alan Ball (Six Feet Under), in addition to dozens of other writers, directors, studio executives and actors. Martin takes us behind the scenes of our favourite shows, delivering never-before-heard story after story and revealing how TV has emerged from the shadow of film to become a truly significant and influential part of our culture.

Brett Martin is the author of The Supranos: The Book(2007). His work has appeared in The New York Times, The New Yorker, Food and Wine and Vanity Fair. Difficult Men is an insightful history of popular US TV drama which traces the emergence of shows such as The Sopranos, Breaking Bad, Mad Men and The Wire, and explores their engagement with important social issues around love, sexuality, race and violence.

Critic Reviews

... this high resolution snapshot of American television ... is convincing as a discussion of the relationship between the economics of television and its creativity ... It also shines a light on the obscurely collaborative processes by which episodes of dramas get beaten into shape in writers' rooms ... It's core, however, pulsates with some of the most entertaining profiles of writers since Dr Johnson's Lives of the Poets.

The Times
Critic Reviews

Brett Martin's insider understanding, built up by covering the industry for leading American magazines, makes his answers to these questions an entertaining read. You don't need to be a fan to enjoy his savvy insights into the key series; and his journalistic approach takes you up close to this parallel universe of show-runners, writers' rooms and beat-sheets, even into the Breaking Bad "room" for a day ... It is a complex story but Martin keeps it light and readable with a stream of nice nuggets.

The Sunday Times
Critic Reviews

Brett Martin's Difficult Men does for the outstanding American TV dramas of recent years what Peter Biskind's Easy Riders, Raging Bulls did for the great US movies of the 1970s: it's an entertaining and insightful history of how they came to be made.


Brett Martin is a correspondent for GQ and a 2012 James Beard Journalism Award winner.His work has appeared in Vanity Fair, Gourmet, Bon Appetit, The New York Times, The New Yorker, Food & Wine, and multiple anthologies.He is a frequent contributor to This American Life.

Read More