Wire creator thinks his show couldn’t be made after Game of Thrones

This year marks the 20th anniversary of Thread, HBO’s flagship drama series created by David Simon and Ed Burns. Drawing on Simon’s background as a journalist and Burns’ time as a cop, the show explored life in the city of Baltimore, with each season examining a different institution, from the police to labor unions in through politics and public schools.

Simon and Burns are back with a new HBO series: We own this town, which tells the true story of Baltimore’s corrupt Gun Task Force. The couple are promoting it, and Burns in particular had some interesting things to say about how TV has changed since then. Thread completed in 2008.

Basically, Burns said that Thread could “definitely” not have been made on HBO if it had launched today. “Now it must be game of thrones. It must be big. It has to be disconnected from stepping on anyone’s toes,” he said. The New York Times. “I’ve watched a few limited series on HBO, and they’re good shows, but they don’t blaze new trails. They’re thrillers or these rich women bickering with each other in a city. I don’t see anyone saying: “Hey, this is a really good show.”

“HBO wouldn’t green light a show like Thread today,” says a man promoting his Baltimore crime drama on HBO

Now…I have to point out the obvious irony here: Ed Burns is promoting his new HBO gritty crime drama that looks a lot like Thread…and complaining that HBO wouldn’t greenlight a show like Thread today. I realize that the success of Thread helped him get his foot in the door, but still, it’s funny, isn’t it?

As for his criticisms of programs having to be “big”, it is true that the success of game of thrones inspired HBO (and many others) to invest in brighter, showier series like Westworld and Golden age. But they’ve also had a lot of success on a smaller scale, like Easttown Mare, Euphoria, The White Lotus and even Succession. These series may not be as serious as the HBO shows that accompanied them Thread, but HBO has always traded fluff. Hell, one of their greatest shows ever was sex in the city and which ended before Thread even started.

We own this town looks pretty good… but does a lot of other HBO series. Burns is giving me some “get off my lawn” energy here. What do you do with it?

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