HBO changed how stories could be told on TV. The network's meteoric rise heralded the second golden age of television with serialized shows that examined and reflected American anxieties, fears, and secret passions through complicated characters who were flawed and often unlikable. HBO's own behind-the-scenes story is as complex, compelling, and innovative as the dramas the network created, driven by unorthodox executives who pushed the boundaries of what viewers understood as television at the turn of the century.
An exhaustive and only occasionally tedious account of how HBO’s executives, producers and creators built an indelible brand ... The book is full of arresting insights ... Gillette and Koblin ably detail the symptomatic impunity shown to Albrecht, at HBO and beyond ... Gillette and Koblin seem less self-assured, however, in teasing out the relationship between reality and art.
Gossipy, cameo-padded ... In an account as polished, risk-averse and page-turning as the prestige format that HBO gave rise to, Gillette and Koblin flip between the character arcs of writers and programmers who have been slyly guiding our national conversation and the suits they work for ... Like an HBO show, the book attempts to shape a compelling, emotional yarn out of those headlines ... Gillette and Koblin report on the pipeline from journalism to streaming but don’t ask what the process has done to journalism itself.
Revealing picture of a cultural and business institution from its beginnings to the challenges it now faces ... The book serves two purposes, and does both quite well ... A fascinating account of HBO’s business practices show how the cable network and eventual streaming service struggled to keep up with the world it helped create ... Gillette and Koblin offer plenty of behind-the-scenes tales that whet the appetites of TV and business news junkies alike ... Gillette and Koblin’s deep reporting and sourcing are what make It’s Not TV come together so well. The result is a read so riveting, it’s not hard to imagine watching it unfold on Sunday nights.