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We left the window open during a match in October 2007 and a strange wind blew into the room.

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Which Acclaimed TV Series Is Like Which Highly Successful English Football Club?

Eventualities kept me from seeing almost all of the games this weekend (for the record, I caught the first half of Man Utd-Arsenal and part of the second half of Barcelona-It Doesn’t Really Make Any Difference) so I’m not just bursting with new soccer insights to write about today. Not that you would be able to tell that from the following blog post, in which I try to figure out which well-known TV dramas the top four clubs in England would be if they were somehow to become TV dramas, but in a way that preserved the basic features of their identities. Let me know if you have trouble understanding this concept. It’s something pretty new on the internet.

Speculatively, then:

The Sopranos

The show. An epic of human corruption, ultimately undone by the self-loathing consequent on its inability to decide whether it wanted to be tragedy or satire.

The club. Chelsea. Though, to be fair, as high-priced Italian imports go, Furio was a sight more useful than Andriy Shevchenko.


The show. A drama of civilization, proving that the savagery endemic to the formation of an ordered society will be taken for heroism by the later, softer generations who look back on it as the key to a mythic past.

The club. Um, Liverpool, maybe? Maybe Liverpool?

The Wire

The show. A portrait of the modern city, diagramming the interlocking systems of authority, criminality, violence, economy, and culture, and demonstrating perhaps most eloquently that power is always a function of either fulfilling desire or repressing it.

The club. Manchester United. This is partly because Man Utd, too, is a complex web of aggression and constraint, Alex Ferguson having instituted a culture in which the energy of criminal fantasy is incessantly channeled back into an overriding but unstable system of control, and partly because Wayne Rooney totally looks like Herc.

Mad Men

The show. The saga of capitalist desire, exploring the seductions and distortions of self that become possible in a world made dreamlike by its freedom and fluidity.

The club. Arsenal. Or, as they were known before Arsène Wenger arrived, “Dick Whitman FC.”

What am I missing? I’m working on a theory about Dexter and Blackburn (protagonists that are somehow sympathetic even though prone to violence), and I think Wigan are probably Six Feet Under (because I have no interest in watching them). But I’m sure there’s more. And yes, if I can figure out a way to plump this out with a Z-axis involving characters from The Big Lebowski or historical epochs beginning with Julius Caesar, I’ll make it into a Facebook quiz and retire.

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Which Acclaimed TV Series Is Like Which Highly Successful English Football Club?

by Brian Phillips · September 1, 2009

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