Ken Burns is perhaps the single best purveyor of a certain type of Americana, namely the long, detailed look at specific turning points in the history of these United States that illuminates how we got where we are today even as it sheds light on the specific workings of our cultural past.
"We always wanted to be honest, have a touch of reality to it. One thing we constantly kept coming back to in the writers room was not to think like modern people. In 1865, what would a character's attitude be toward native Americans? What would a character's attitude be toward a prostitute? What do you really think? How would you react?"
The documentary goes beyond just showing clips and offering a glossy overview of popular television programs. It gets to the heart of its subject by speaking not only with those who have portrayed iconic characters and made them household names but also with those responsible for writing and producing these shows.