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Tom 24 Nr 4 (2020): The New Frontiers of Television

The showrunner as televisual “auteur” in promotional materials — a case study of posters for David Simon’s television shows

12 stycznia 2021


Within the rapidly evolving field of modern television, one of the issues which demand to be thoroughly analyzed is the matter of authorship. In the post-network era, the figure of a showrun­ner emerged as American television’s answer to cinema’s auteur. Since HBO’s The Sopranos started the New Golden Age of TV, writer-producers such as Alan Ball and David Simon captivated the imagination of audiences and critics alike, with the last showrunner being famously compared to Charles Dickens, Leo Tolstoy and William Shakespeare. The aim of this article is to analyze one-page posters and ascertain how evident the concept of “showrunner as an auteur” is in said promo­tional materials. The article does not focus on the content of advertised shows, but rather tries to determine whether the artworks reflect the auteurist status of The Wire’s showrunner, David Simon.The case study of posters for television shows run by David Simon demonstrates the rise of his sup­posed popularity and recognizbility.Operating on the assumption that poster credits are not only a part of contractually-bound transaction between the network and talent, but also function as one of the elements that attract prospective viewers, one can conclude that David Simon’s auteurist brand, as recognized by HBO’s publicity department, grew more prominent throughout the years.