TV Review: HBO’s ‘Show Me a Hero’

David Simon, creator of The Wire and Treme, adapted Lisa Belkin's 1999 nonfiction book into a six-part HBO miniseries, debuting Sunday at 8 p.m. Show Me a Hero tells the story of the conflict around federally-mandated public housing development in the late 1980s in Yonkers, N.Y. Oscar Isaac stars as the city’s young mayor Nick Wasicsko. The following are reviews from TV critics around the web, compiled by B&C.

“This is a miniseries, rolled out in double episodes on three consecutive Sundays, that not only rewards viewers for the time they invest, but also gives them a glimpse of what could earn a very generous haul of Emmy nominations next year. [...] Show Me A Hero certainly isn't sexy and, on the surface, may not seem particularly timely or urgent, but the core elements of the story are universal and the show's most impressive achievement is making them relevant and dramatic and entertaining all at the same time.”
Tim Goodman, The Hollywood Reporter

"This is a basic, fundamental human issue, one that should be easy for everyone in this story to understand. As Show Me a Hero — the exact kind of project a company like HBO should be putting its abundant resources behind — teaches us early and often, even the simplest lessons can be hard for some to learn. Especially when they don't have storytellers like these to help explain it."
— Alan Sepinwall, HitFix

"With Oscar Isaac in the lead as embattled Yonkers Mayor Nick Wasicsko, it’s anchored by one of the best star turns on TV in recent memory. Unlike Simon’s last two projects, Show Me a Hero is as entertaining as it is powerful. It’s going to win awards. Sorry, David. But I also have a feeling that people are going to watch it — and hopefully a great many of them."
— Andy Greenwald, Grantland

“A timely, nuanced look at class and race through the prism of events that transpired more than a quarter-century ago, Show Me a Hero is a sobering, spare and meticulously crafted HBO miniseries. Although the subject matter — six hours devoted to the battle over public housing in Yonkers, N.Y. — won’t be for everyone, David Simon’s productions seldom are. Nevertheless, the pervasive quality and ambition, including Oscar Isaac’s central performance, rubs off on the pay network in a flattering way, feeling very much of a piece with the third season of The Wire” in capturing the dysfunction of municipal politics.”
Brian Lowry, Variety

"David Simon's miniseries makes an absorbing, and surprisingly hopeful, drama out of urban policy."
— James PoniewozikTime

“What Mr. Simon and his Wire collaborator William F. Zorzi have written, and Paul Haggis (Crash) has directed, is many things: meticulously and cleverly assembled, wonderfully coherent, often moving and funny, painstaking in its evocation of a midsize, tired city in the late 1980s and early ’90s.”
— Mike HaleNew York Times

"The courtroom scenes are riveting, and so is Isaac’s emotional performance. Wasicsko is a man obsessed with power and ego, but he’s driven by the same heartfelt, hopeful belief as this thoughtful drama: Everyone deserves a place to call home."
Melissa MaerzEntertainment Weekly

“Simon’s extraordinary miniseries does live up to the complete meaning of Fitzgerald’s observation. It is ultimately a tragic story, with an enormously moving emotional payoff at the end. The finale will move you, perhaps to tears.”
David Wiegand, San Francisco Chronicle

“Playing besieged Yonkers mayor Nick Wasicsko, Isaac not only looks like Pacino, with the melancholy brown eyes and the formidable schnozz, but he sounds like the beloved actor at his 1970s peak in the classic films Serpico and And Justice For All. But even though he’s treading the same underdog terrain that Pacino did better than almost anybody, Isaacs’ performance is no impersonation.”
Robert Rorke, New York Post