Apparently nobody has watched any of David Simon’s shows, ever. “I don’t believe anyone’s going to watch this,” Simon tells The Telegraph, referring to his latest HBO miniseries, Show Me A Hero. “You are not going to get zombie-like numbers for a story about 200 units of low-income housing being built on the east side of the Saw Mill Expressway,” Simon adds, taking a dig at the AMC ratings juggernaut The Walking Dead.
In a 2012 interview with The New York Times, Simon expressed a similar sentiment about people discovering The Wire too late in the game: “I do have a certain amused contempt for the number of people who walk sideways into the thing and act like they were there all along. No one was there in the beginning, or the middle, or even at the end. Our numbers continued to decline from Season 2 on,” he said. (To be fair, some casual fans do see the second season as a misstep.)
The Wire did struggle to build its audience, and it found it long after it was done. But TV was not the same in 2002 as it is today; streaming services, DVRs, and home video have changed the way people watch their stories since The Wire premiered. And as a result of the show’s posthumous success—perhaps going back to Homicide: Life On The Street—Simon has been able to produce Treme, the upcoming Show Me A Hero, and Deuce, a project he has in development that will explore the adult cinema industry in and around Times Square in the ’70s.
Of course, Simon also complains about nobody watching Treme. “It was frustrating,” he says. “To [HBO’s] credit, they came up with five hours to let us finish a story that we were telling and telling well, [but that] wasn’t helping them on Sunday nights.” Four short seasons and an ending? That’s more than Deadwood got.
Simon’s latest effort for HBO is written by The Wire mastermind (good) and directed by Crash’s Paul Haggis (not so good). Oscar Isaac stars in an era-appropriate bad haircut and mustache combo as Nick Wasicsko, who was elected mayor of Yonkers, New York at age 28 and fought tirelessly against housing segregation in the city. The subject matter is perfect fodder for for Simon, as it frankly deals with the ways racism and politics are intertwined; according to Lohud, Nay Wasicsko, Nick’s widow, has said that the HBO series “is really fitting for Nick. He was never properly acknowledged, I think.”
Show Me A Hero also features Jim Belushi, Winona Rider, Catherine Keener, and Alfred Molina, and premieres on HBO on August 16th.