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David Simon on Writing, America, and TV

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I've written about The Wire before, and its final season began last night, bringing a fresh set of dark themes to the series. In my previous post, I pointed to several interviews with and profiles of David Simon, the show's creator and head writer. But one of the best interviews -- a Believer interview by Nick Hornby from last August -- only had a brief excerpt available online. The full interview is now online, and it's worth a read not just for fans of The Wire, but for writers, and for anyone interested in how TV is made in America.

In the interview, Simon engages in several long-form rants (with plenty of expletives -- this is not for kids or those who disapprove of coarse language!) about the nature of writing, the state of TV, and even the War of 1812 -- he kicks in some interesting Baltimore trivia about that last topic.

Here's a sample of the Believer interview (David Simon is speaking), now available in its entirely online:

There are two ways of traveling. One is with a tour guide, who takes you to the crap everyone sees. You take a snapshot and move on, experiencing nothing beyond a crude visual and the retention of a few facts. The other way to travel requires more time—hence the need for this kind of viewing to be a long-form series or miniseries, in this bad metaphor—but if you stay in one place, say, if you put up your bag and go down to the local pub or shebeen and you play the fool a bit and make some friends and open yourself up to a new place and new time and new people, soon you have a sense of another world entirely. We're after this: Making television into that kind of travel, intellectually. Bringing those pieces of America that are obscured or ignored or otherwise segregated from the ordinary and effectively arguing their relevance and existence to ordinary Americans. Saying, in effect, This is part of the country you have made. This too is who we are and what we have built. Think again, [expletive]s.

And the only difference between what we're doing and a world traveler getting off the beaten path is that our viewers don't really have to play the fool. They don't even have to put their ass out of the sofa. They now have a sense of what is happening on a drug corner, or in a homicide unit, or inside a political campaign—and our content, if gently massaged to create drama, is nonetheless rooted in accurate reporting and experience.

Read the entire interview (warning: much coarse language!), and check out my previous post on The Wire for more links.

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Shout! Factory
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entertainment
The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Turkey Day Marathon Is Back
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Shout! Factory

For many fans, Mystery Science Theater 3000 is as beloved a Thanksgiving tradition as mashed potatoes and gravy (except funnier). It seems appropriate, given that the show celebrates the turkeys of the movie world. And that it made its debut on Thanksgiving Day in 1988 (on KTMA, a local station in Minneapolis). In 1991, to celebrate its third anniversary, Comedy Central hosted a Thanksgiving Day marathon of the series—and in the more than 25 years since, that tradition has continued.

Beginning at 12 p.m. ET on Thursday, Shout! Factory will host yet another Mystery Science Theater 3000 Turkey Day marathon, hosted by series creator Joel Hodgson and stars Jonah Ray and Felicia Day. Taking place online at ShoutFactoryTV.com, or via the Shout! Factory TV app on Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire and select smart TVs, the trio will share six classic MST3K episodes that have never been screened as part of a Shout! Factory Turkey Day Marathon. Here’s hoping your favorite episode makes it (cough, Hobgoblins, cough.)

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CableTV.com
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Pop Culture
America's Favorite Reality Shows, By State
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CableTV.com

From aspiring crooners to housewives looking to settle scores, there are plenty of reality shows out there for every interest. But which ones are currently the most popular? To answer this question, CableTV.com mined Google Trends data to measure the most-watched “real-life” programs in each state. They broke their findings down in the map below.

The results: Residents of sunny California and Arizona are still Keeping Up With the Kardashians, while Texans love Little Women: Dallas. Louisianans can’t get enough of Duck Dynasty and in Utah, viewers are tuning in to Sister Wives.

See which other shows made the cut below, and afterwards, check out CableTV.com’s deep data dive from 2016 to see how our viewing preferences have changed over a year.

A map breaking down each state's favorite reality show, created by the CableTV.com team.
CableTV.com

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