“From the Mind of David Simon”: A Case for the Showrunner Approach

Mikkel Jensen


This article makes a case for the academic soundness of reading together several television shows by the same showrunner. Zeroing in on the case of David Simon, the essay traces the difficulties that one faces if one aims to view together The Corner, The Wire, Generation Kill, Treme, Show Me a Hero and The Deuce. It also aims to point out the reason how one can study an oeuvre without overemphasizing the agency of the individual in a highly collaborative medium. To that end, the article considers how intellectual historian Quentin Skinner’s concept “the mythology of coherence” can help qualify some of the issues with reading several television series together. The article further argues that television scholar Erlend Lavik’s term “focused overarching authorship” supports the validity in trying to tease out a collected vision in Simon’s television serials. For while David Simon is a sine qua non for the programs he has served as the showrunner on, the paper argues that it is crucial that we do not let all textual components point back to Simon as the originator of the textual utterance.


showrunners; the showrunner approach; David Simon; authorship; auteur

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TV Series Cited

Generation Kill (2008)

Show Me a Hero (2015)

The Corner (2000)

The Wire (2002-2008)

The Deuce (2017-)

Treme (2010-2013)

DOI: 10.6092/issn.2421-454X/7610


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