Also of interest…
In small-screen histories
All the Pieces Matter
by Jonathan Abrams (Crown Archetype, $27)
“There will never be another TV show quite like The Wire,” said Matt Brennan in PasteMagazine.com. This excellent oral history of David Simon’s series about Baltimore and its police captures how its now undisputed artistic greatness emerged from the happy collision of “an almost infinite number of factors.” Offering enough detail to please the most ardent fan, the book is also “that vanishingly rare thing: an honest treatment of the fraught relationship between TV as business and TV as art.”
Stealing the Show
by Joy Press (Atria, $26)
This “scrupulously reported and lovingly written” book charts the rise of TV’s new normal, said Diane Werts in Newsday. The 1988 debut of Murphy Brown launched a revolution in which an ever-growing number of female showrunners have greatly diversified the characters and stories seen on home screens, and media critic Joy Press maps every step. Shonda Rhimes, Jill Soloway, and other major players sat for interviews, sharing how much they’ve enjoyed the cultural shift they’re engineering.
by Amy Kaufman (Dutton, $25)
No one who watches The Bachelor regularly could be surprised that artifice is a big part of the reality show’s DNA, said Jon Caramanica in The New York Times. This “zippy and dishy” book reveals just how the sausage is made, and for any fan, it’s enthralling. Amy Kaufman, a Los Angeles Times writer, is a “keen and perceptive” observer attuned to the way the show shapes each season’s story about the quest for love—and somehow gets every participant to play a character the story requires.
Homey Don’t Play That!
by David Peisner (Atria/37 Ink, $28)
In Living Color remains “a relatively unsung cultural juggernaut,” said James Hannaham in Bookforum. The 1990s TV sketch show created by Keenen Ivory Wayans was a steppingstone for Jamie Foxx, Jim Carrey, and Jennifer Lopez, and it proved that a large audience existed for comedy written for black people about black people. Homey Don’t Play That! maintains “the brisk, gossipy tone of a celebrity tell-all” even as it ranges to include a full history of late-20th-century black humor. ■