Embrace the power of The Wire. It might be the best decision you ever make.
You may not know what The Wire is, and you wouldn’t be alone if you don’t. For all of its excellence, The Wire – even for an HBO Original series – had a relatively modest following during its five seasons on television from 2002 to 2008.
In my humble opinion, The Wire was the best television show when it aired and I would argue the best ever. I will take this to my grave.
While I admit that the very first episode can be strenuous because so much of it hinges on introducing every major character, the show has you hooked very fast.
Fellas, if you ever have the chance to watch the show with a lady friend of yours do it. She obviously cares a lot about you if she is willing to share this show with you.
Ladies, the same is true for you. If he asks to watch The Wire with you, he obviously is a gentleman. It’s a better meal ticket than if he invites you for dinner at his parents’ house.
The Wire has a lot going for it.
The man behind The Wire, creator David Simon, assembled a group of very gifted writers. The result is incredible writing, at times dramatic and serious, while other times witty and comical, but never dull or laborious.
Another reason why The Wire is such a compelling TV show is the story it tells: America is dysfunctional and fails most of its citizens at every turn. The Wire is the everyday struggle for survival in one of America’s poorest and most dangerous cities, Baltimore. Much to his credit, David Simon embraced the fact that Baltimore is home to many individuals of the country’s African-American minority: his cast is unlike anything seen on television with 60% (a cautious estimate) of the actors being African-Americans. Most of them contribute to the show’s realism with marvelous performances throughout the five seasons, notably Tristan Wilds (“Michael Lee”, seasons 4 and 5), Michael K. Williams (“Omar Little”, seasons 1-5) and Andre Royo (“Bubbles”, seasons 1-5).
While it seems like a regular cop show, The Wire does not dwell on the surface of the themes it tackles. Let’s be blunt, it is no CSI or NYPD Blue. Above all, this trait is what contributes the most to the show’s success and quality.
Season 1 depicts the growth of Avon Barksdale’s drug cartel and offers the inside view of the citizens growing up in violent neighbourhoods, a perspective rarely included in similar shows. In season 2, Simon takes a detour to examine the life of the typical Caucasian Baltimore citizen forced to work the few hours he can per month at the city’s docks, and the moral choices he faces everyday. Season 3 examines the inner workings of Baltimore’s police department and political scene while culminating in the conclusion of the Avon Barksdale and “Stringer” Bell storyline. Season 4 is an attempt to illustrate how Baltimore’s school system can lose track of some students and ultimately lose them for good. Finally, season 5 centers on the media’s role in conveying – sometimes manufacturing – the complex reality of life in Baltimore.
The irony of The Wire is that while there have never been any TV show quite like it, it also is very much like your typical TV show since it has never won an Emmy Award. Jacob Weisberg, editor-in-chief of the Slate Group, says that, “It’s like them never giving a Nobel Prize to Tolstoy. It doesn’t make Tolstoy look bad, it makes the Nobel Prize look bad.”
If nothing else, The Wire might get you into J-School like it did for me. Nothing to sneeze at in its own right.