In HBO's Show Me a Hero, TV auteur David Simon (The Wire) offers yet another panorama of urban unrest and institutional dysfunction. The six-hour miniseries, based on a 1999 book by journalist Lisa Belkin, tells the real-life story of the divisive political process that resulted when a court ordered Yonkers, New York, to build approximately 200 units of affordable housing.
Simon's screenplay, co-written with William F. Zorzi, tilts toward support of the housing project, but makes its case without being overly preachy, mostly because of its journalistic interest in the mechanics of government. As in his previous work—The Wire looked at Baltimore's failed drug war through the eyes of both cops and criminals, and Treme was a sprawling picaresque about life in post-Katrina New Orleans—Simon remains deeply interested in the complex interplay between politics, policy, and bureaucracy. He is perhaps the best dramatizer of how government works (and doesn't) in popular storytelling today.