We are a culture without the will to seriously examine our own problems. We eschew that which is complex, contradictory or confusing. As a culture, we seek simple solutions. We enjoy being provoked and titillated, but resist the rigorous, painstaking examination of issues that might, in the end, bring us to the point of recognizing our problems, which is the essential first step to solving any of them.
David Simon – executive producer and head writer of The Wire
HBO’s The Wire is a gritty, street-level morality play about drug dealers, police detectives, school teachers, government officials and news media in inner-city Baltimore. The executive producer and head writer is David Simon, who wrote Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets, which spawned the popular TV show.
Truth over trophies
The Wire isn’t for everyone but that is precisely what made it great. Most shows are designed for the masses and that is what makes them mediocre at best. The Wire garnered some critical acclaim but was too ‘urban’ for Hollywood’s seal of approval. As a result, The Wire only had two Emmy nominations in its five year run. To those who have seen the show, it reflects more on the Emmy selection process.
”It’s like them never giving a Nobel Prize to Tolstoy,” said Jacob Weisberg, editor-in-chief of the Slate Group and a correspondent for Slate.com. ”It doesn’t make Tolstoy look bad, it makes the Nobel Prize look bad.”
Mark Harris from Entertainment Weekly feels the same.
I mean, seriously — cancel the telecast, go home, and hang your freaking heads in shame. The Emmy voters are like your great-grandmother; news travels slowly to them, and you have to say anything very loudly to make sure it gets through.
The Wire got a little more play at the Television Critics Association awards, a more honest vote from people who don’t care about the red carpet of Hollywood, where it garnered four nominations in 2008. The timing was unfortunate, because the Wire ran up against another phenomenal show, AMC’s Mad Men, and took home only the Heritage Award, which recognizes a long-standing program that has had a lasting cultural or social impact. Ironically, Season 5 was The Wire’s final season.
The top six reasons The Wire is the best television series ever
I won’t spoil any of the plot because I want all of you to get every drop of enjoyment I did out of the show so I’ll simply put forth the top six reasons why The Wire was the greatest television series ever.
1) The Writing
Gritty. Intense. Unapologetic. Complex. Best writing for a TV series ever.
2) The Characters
There are no big stars in this show. If you recognize any of the actors, it is likely from something they did as a result of their work on The Wire.
Other drama shows such as 24 and The West Wing focus on about ten main characters. The Wire has three times that many and at least as many bit players. Each is deeply complex and flawed but you find yourself rooting for them for different reasons.
3) The Pace
More happens in one episode of The Wire than in a season of some shows. The show moves so fast, it requires your undivided attention.
4) The Unpredictability
Have a favorite character? Don’t get too attached because they may disappear for a season or they may get killed. The show must go on. Getting settled into the plotline for the first season? Don’t get too comfortable. Each season analyzes a completely new side of Baltimore, but Simon weaves it all together like the master storyteller he is.
5) The Dialogue
Street language. Nicknames. Police slang. The language is so real that I watch the show with English subtitles on.
Everyone’s favorite bad guy, Omar, played brilliantly by Michael Kenneth Williams, is reason enough to watch the show. Despite being the baddest of the bad guys, a scar crossing his face, Omar is a gangster with a heart. Omar walks around shirtless under his duster, his shotgun always ready at his side. Feared by everyone, Omar doesn’t deal drugs himself, he simply lays in wait and ruthlessly robs the top drug dealers whenever he pleases.
One other thing….Omar is openly homosexual. Such is the brilliance of The Wire.
David Simon, the rest of the writers and the cast and crew of The Wire created a masterpiece, a visual novel, a show for the ages. Do yourself a favor and watch it from the very first episode; you only get 60. Get pulled in. Find yourself rooting for murderers, drunk womanizers and corrupt politicians.
But don’t forget to turn the subtitles on.