“Nobody watched The Wire when it was on,” says David Simon, leaning forward with a conspiratorial whisper, sitting at a neat desk in the ersatz office of Harry Oxman, the long-ago vice-mayor of Yonkers, New York. “Nobody watched The Corner.
“I didn’t believe for a minute [Generation Kill] would pull a number. You make a piece about the American misadventure in Iraq when people still have a taste of Fallujah in their mouths? Then we launched Treme, a show about culture and musicians — good luck.
“And, uh,” Simon says, “I don’t believe anyone’s going to watch this.”
The famously malcontent Simon is harrumphing as usual. His new HBO miniseries, Show Me a Hero — about the fierce and unbelievable public-housing desegregation battle in 1980s Yonkers — is shooting down the hall. It will wrap at the end of the month and won’t air until later this year. And here he is in this uninhabited part of the set, patiently, convincingly, and dramatically explaining why it also will fail to find an audience.
“You are not going to get zombie-like numbers,” he says with more than a hint of disdain, “for a story about 200 units of low-income housing being built on the east side of the Saw Mill Expressway and the racial strife that ensues.”
But in all this harrumphing, there is a glint of stubborn pride. “I’ve gone 16 years,” he says. “I’ve gone as long as you can go in television without having an audience.”
Say hello to David Simon in winter.