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David Simon is not happy about his Twitter ban.
The television creator, best known for HBO’s The Wire, addressed the incident on a panel centered on how politics is impacting TV at the ATX Festival in Austin, Texas. Simon had been temporarily locked out of his Twitter account on Friday after violating the social media platform’s standards by reportedly tweeting that a Trump supporter on the site “should die of a slow moving veneral rash that settles in your lying throat,” and that another should “die of boils.”
“I’m going to get back on and I’m going to basically say all the same things I got thrown off for, and I’m going to tweet them at [Twitter CEO] Jack Dorsey. I’m going to use the exact same language on the premise that telling somebody they can drop dead is not harassment,” Simon said, explaining that he, of course, has no actual control over anyone’s mortality. “So I’m just going to say, ‘Really, for your policies, you should drop dead.’ And then I’ll be banned again.” Simon went on to acknowledge that the suspension might even be “healthy” for him: “My life might become more ordered.”
Also on the politically themed panel, which was moderated by The Hollywood Reporter’s TV critic Daniel Fienberg, was The Good Wife and The Good Fight creators Robert and Michelle King. The married pair said that before Donald Trump became president, season two of the latter show — a CBS All Access spinoff of the former series starring Christine Baranski — was going to be all about tort reform, an idea that didn’t exactly thrill the network. But after the 2016 election, politics became much more core to the series.
“Our shows have changed in that politics has become so much more a part of the shows. Without this new rhythm, we wouldn’t spend as much time looking at the news and then it wouldn’t seep into the show as much as it does now,” said Michelle. Added Robert of the Good Fight writers: “These are people who find a great value in going to an office and knowing that they don’t have to ignore what’s going on in the room but it’s really the subject of the discussion.”
After moving on from the Twitter snafu, Simon opened up about his fears about the current societial landscape and how much he feels we’ve taken for granted what we thought were the parameters of American politics in the last two years. “We have to find a way to call this moment what it is. This is 1933, this is the Weimar,” said Simon, who is currently showrunning HBO’s period porn drama The Deuce. “I’m sorry, but even [noted attorney and author] Mike Godwin is now saying, ‘My rule [internet adage Godwin’s law] doesn’t count anymore.’ If you’re paying attention, this is how it starts.”
Simon has, in fact, been working on a political drama at HBO for years now. The pay cable network first ordered the pilot back in 2015, and at the time it was described as a present-day world of Capitol Hill that would provide a detailed examination of partisanship and the influence of money on national governance. Since then, the pilot script has been rewritten four times as the writing staff is continually outdone by Trump’s unprecented moves. “We thought, ‘What is Trump?’ And then we thought, ‘He’s Huey Long, but stupid. He’s a populist, but he doesn’t even believe in the tenets of populism. He believes in whoever talked to him last,'” Simon said, noting that the latest version was thrown out the window when the tax bill passed.
“I don’t think we can go ahead with this project,” Simon continued, adding that the room is waiting for the results of the mid-term elections to see if there’s a “blowback” or if the system rights itself in any way. “I don’t know how to write this. I don’t know what the world is — how do I write it?”
For the time being, the showrunner is keeping himself occupied with The Deuce, which he said he’s glad is a period piece that doesn’t have to address Trump head-on.
The Kings, who are crafting a modern-day drama with The Good Fight, noted that it is increasingly hard to make good TV today — especially political dramas — because real-life politics itself is so highly entertaining and mesmerizing that shows often fall short now. “For whatever else you want to say about the Trump administration, it’s extremely well cast,” Michelle joked to laughs from the crowd, quipping: “I mean, I couldn’t think of [Anthony] Scaramucci!”
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