Show Me a Hero, TV review: Public housing policy brought to the screen by off-topic testimonies

 

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The Independent Culture

There will be no heroes in Show Me A Hero, the latest state-of-a-nation panorama from American sage and creator of The Wire, David Simon. What Simon does best is not portraits of dynamic individuals, but portraits of entire, stagnant communities.

No other showrunner working today has the credibility to get a six-part mini-series about public housing policy onto television, much less one that’s this absorbing.

Enigmatic actor of the moment Oscar Isaac (Inside Llewyn Davis, A Most Violent Year) stars as Nick Wasicsko, another real historical character who, in 1988, became the youngest mayor in America, when he defeated multiple-term incumbent Angelo Martinelli (James Belushi). Thus Wasicsko found himself thrust to the forefront of a desegregation campaign, despite having no progressive principles of his own.

Strangely, the 1980s setting in no way diminishes the relevance of Simon’s observations – in fact, in the year of the Black Lives Matter movement, this study of America’s racism feels particularly relevant. And this way we get Simon’s writing, plus a cast of excellent character actors sporting all the over-sized specs and amusing facial hair you could hope for. Alfred Molina’s slicked-back ‘do alone is worth the Sky subscription fee.

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