The thesis behind The Revolution Was Televised: The Cops, Crooks, Slingers and Slayers Who Changed TV Drama Forever (2012) is not terribly hard to suss out. Many TV and cultural critics have stated that we’re living in the “Golden Age of TV” after all. However, in this book, Hitfix.com’s Alan Sepinwall discusses the 12 dramas he considers most responsible for this golden age: Oz, The Sopranos, The Wire, Deadwood, The Shield, Lost, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, 24, Battlestar Galactica, Friday Night Lights, Mad Men, and Breaking Bad. Sepinwall interviews creators, writers, and network executives to get the skinny on how these groundbreaking dramas came about and analyzes the impact that they made on careers, networks, and the television landscape as a whole.
Alan Sepinwall is one of my favorite TV critics, so I was excited to hear that he had written a book. He’s insightful without being didactic or pretentious, funny without being mean, enthusiastic without being too fanboyish, and has good taste without being all snobby about it. I don’t always agree with what he has to say, but I always want to read his perspective. The book has the same quality that is present in his other work. It’s well-written and organized, and offers a fresh take on a subject that a TV nerd like myself has already read a lot about. The version I read was self-published (though I believe the book has since been picked up by a traditional publisher), but I could tell that he had hired a good editor even before he thanked her in the acknowledgments section. Self-published books are rarely this clean or focused, mainly because I think those authors usually only hire a copy editor, if they hire an editor at all. And this is not a slam on Sepinwall because EVERY author of a long-form narrative needs an outside perspective on their work.
The shows that Sepinwall chooses to dissect are heavy on the white, middle-aged male antiheroes. To his credit, Sepinwall acknowledges this and while I don’t necessarily disagree with his choices of shows, I wish there was more diversity in the selections. Whether that is because of a lack of female and minority representation in positions of power or because society places more importance on stories about middle-aged white men than everyone else, but I think it’s an interesting topic to explore and I wish he had delved into it a bit more.
All in all though, The Revolution Was Televised: The Cops, Crooks, Slingers and Slayers Who Changed TV Drama Forever is a strong book. I love reading about the creative process and I love discussions about the impact of pop culture, so this book was right up my alley. Now I hope he does a book about comedy. I’d love to read about that.