Martha Nochimson, Film Critic and Writer / Covering David Lynch, Soap Opera, The Sopranos, David Chase, and Film Writing

Martha P. Nochimson, Film Critic and Writer

Television Rewired: The Rise of the Auteur Series

2019. University of Texas Press.

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In 1990, American television experienced a seismic shift when Twin Peaks premiered, eschewing formulaic plots and clear lines between heroes and villains. This game-changing series inspired a generation of show creators to experiment artistically, transforming the small screen in ways that endure to this day.

Focusing on six shows (Twin Peaks, with a critical analysis of both the original series and the 2017 return; The Wire; Treme; The Sopranos; Mad Men; and Girls), Television Rewired explores what made these programs so extraordinary. As their writers and producers fought against canned plots and moral simplicity, they participated in the evolution of the exhilarating new auteur television while underscoring the fact that art and entertainment don't have to be mutually exclusive. Nochimson also makes provocative distinctions between true auteur television and shows that were inspired by the freedom of the auteur series but nonetheless remained entrenched within the parameters of formula. Providing opportunities for vigorous discussion, Television Rewired will stimulate debates about which of the new television series since 1990 constitute "art" and which are tweaked "business-driven storytelling."

"The distinctive approach of this book is the interweaving of textual work with the extensive interviews which the author has conducted with the auteurs. At its best, this made for fascinating reading. For instance, the confidence with which Lynch talks about his (complex and somewhat outré) beliefs helps Nochimson to analyse elements of Twin Peaks which otherwise remain opaque. And the account of how Nochimson dropped her own approach to analysing The Wire (via Ecclesiastes) after talking extensively to Simon was illuminating and convincing."

Christine Geraghty, University of Glasgow, coeditor of The Television Studies Book

"Martha Nochimson has written an excellent book about the evolution of the American television series as a serious and significant site of art in the contemporary world. She expands our understanding of it by focusing on the auteurs behind this art, amplified by the copious presence of the personal interviews she conducted."

Martin Shuster, Goucher College, author of New Television: The Aesthetics and Politics of a Genre.