The 2013 Primetime Emmy Award nominees are out, and many of the nominees include shows that feature the “unhappy, morally compromised” men that author Brett Martin examines in his book Difficult Men: Behind the Scenes of a Creative Revolution: From the Sopranos and the Wire to Mad Men and Breaking Bad.
Martin explains that “what used to be the ‘vast wasteland’ or the ‘boob tube’ is where you go for adult storytelling” and is why he characterizes the current era in television as the signature art form of the first decade of the 21st century.
The popularity of these television narratives has to do with “the rise of these anti-heroes that have us rooting for murderers and thieves and adulterers and nasty men.” Having a hero like Tony Soprano opened the door to this new narrative, he said. He likens Mad Men’s Don Draper to Tony Soprano in that both characters test the viewer and make us ask ourselves why we root for them.
Audience’s continued interest in these difficult men is a testament to their “taste for real storytelling,” he said.