Difficult Men

Friday, August 09, 2013


Breaking Bad returns this weekend for its final 8-episode run this weekend. You can find an answer to why the show has joined the pantheon of greats including The Sopranos, The Wire, Mad Men and more in TV’s current Golden Age, in Brett Martin’ s new book, Difficult Men: Behind the Scenes of a Creative Revolution. Brooke talks to Martin about how we ended up in this TV renaissance. 


Brett Martin

Hosted by:

Brooke Gladstone

Comments [7]


Oh good grief...what am I missing about these shows? I have never been able to sit through more than 2 complete episodes of any of them. Overwrought, overacted, ugly - I just don't get the appeal. Isn't life difficult enough without filling our heads with this garbage?

Aug. 11 2013 11:36 AM

Who sang the version of "Crystal Blue Persuasion" at the end of the show? It sounds a little different than Tommy James.

Aug. 11 2013 11:14 AM

Hey Brooke, you didn't have to tell us, about 'Breaking Bad' that you love the show. It is evidence from you and your fellow public radio fanboys and fangirls who rarely miss an opportunity to flack for these 'edgy' shows and their Cable Corps.

Aug. 11 2013 10:56 AM

Oops. SycophaNtic. But you get the picture.

Aug. 10 2013 09:23 PM

Haven't we had enough hype of these garbage TV shows and sycophatic coverage of those amazing "show runners"? The Terry Gross show is now an ad-mouthpiece for the inane TV industry. OTM should stick to what they used to be good at: media analysis and context. No fluff, no BS, please. There's too much of that already, everywhere else on the media "landscape". Let's see more coverage of propaganda, corporate control, social repression and other things that really matter. Please, if we hear more crap about " Breaking Bad" or whatever, our radios will explode...

Aug. 10 2013 09:13 PM

"Difficult Men" is a really terrific book. I highly recommend it.

Aug. 10 2013 08:16 PM

Since Sam Peckinpah we've been bombarded with white male angst and aggression from Hollywood. It's amazing, but I think related, that essentially this came out of time when these Hollywood white men of the Post-War era had never had it so good. Cars, big houses in the suburbs, cheap and abundant food sources, stable government, affordable healthcare. It seems that when artists are given comfort and security they get very very angry about it. In the 30s, when you'd expect anger since most of the filmmakers had at least some experience of real poverty, men were charming and thoughtful on film, and those trying to get something for nothing were always villains. I think it's disappointing that you didn't point out the fact that when in the 60s those comfortable white men were being asked to share the pie, we suddenly got all these very virile images of angry, aggressive, unhinged white guys bombarding us, which has never ceased.

I was reading a biography of Sam Peckinpah recently that told the apparently well known story that he was very badly psychologically abused by his mother, an affluent but angry woman who was forbidden from marrying the man she loved, and denied education or work opportunities in an era when that was the norm. It also heavily implied some sexual abuse by the mother, an aspect of the domestic abuse narrative that is assiduously avoided by the media and filmmakers. When you read the way Oliver Stone spoke about his abuse in his Guardian interview you realise that it is still a taboo subject which even the male victims won't acknowledge. I think this cycle of aggression in our society is really hurt by these sort of filmmakers and their admirers, like your guest, who hardly bother to look at the deeper issues and the implications this has for our culture.

Film and TV makers, while telling us scenes of graphic violence and criminality are helpful in understanding it's nature, rarely look into the causes of abuse and violence in any meaningful way which would assist in reducing it, far from it. The ever escalating levels of domestic abuse, the incarceration rates, and the lack of interest in the inhuman conditions prisoners, particularly in California, are currently held in, pay testimony to that fact. We're living in a country that failed to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. I think there has rarely been a time when so many have been so indifferent to the widespread suffering of others, and I think television has contributed to this in a big way. I think it's awful to celebrate this wilful ignorance, and put style before substance. Another disappointing OTM moment.

Aug. 10 2013 12:20 PM

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