With theatres, cinemas, and concert halls shuttered worldwide due to Covid-19, the so-called ‘golden age of television’ may have just entered its platinum phase. Television production, like everything else, has been forced into hibernation or hurried workarounds, but the plethora of content on the various streaming services grows apace.
Those seeking more substantial fare than Netflix’s trashy hit Tiger King will no doubt alight on The Plot Against America, HBO’s adaptation of Philip Roth’s 2004 novel of the same name. With David Simon and Ed Burns at the helm, the series seems preordained to enter the growing pantheon of the network’s prestige offerings alongside the likes of The Sopranos and Game of Thrones, and indeed the masterful The Wire, one of Simon and Burns’s early collaborations.
The Plot Against America is not the equal of The Wire, but then again it is a limited series, incapable of the absorbing narrative expansiveness afforded by multiple seasons. Instead, Roth’s long, counterfactual novel, which takes as its main conceit a fictional Charles Lindbergh presidency during the middle years of World War II, is compressed into six one-hour episodes.