Look, American television has been a juvenile medium for most of its existence. This is true. Because of the commercials, because of the need to placate the maximum number of eyeballs, happy endings abound, redemption abounds, perfect revenge is often achieved in an action sequence. It’s very much unlike life as I have experienced it, and as most people have experienced.
Life is glorious and vibrant and joyous at points, but it is essentially tragic. That’s not a unique David Simon perspective. That’s the perspective of anyone who contemplates anything as simple as mortality. You’re gonna die, and everyone you love and care about is gonna die. Life is finite. Some of them are gonna die too soon, and some of them are gonna die with things unsaid and things unfinished. And if you look at life in a fair and accurate context, you see that it is often deeply tragic, regardless of how well or poorly you live portions of your life — and certainly some people get luckier than others.
Television, by and large, has not dealt with that … because first of all, there’s no money in it. And second of all, because they’re scared of distracting you for a moment from what you have to do, which is buy Lexuses, or buy iPods, or buy bluejeans, or buy feminine hygiene products. Every few minutes, they need you reassured enough that you’re gonna pay attention to the ads."
The Wire and Treme creator David Simon in a fantastic interview over at Salon.