We don’t have cable or satellite TV, so forgive me for being a bit behind on this. My neighbors recently turned us on to the HBO TV series The Wire. They have been feeding us copies of each season from their DVD collection. The hour-long police drama series ran for 5 years, ending its run last spring. Now in the 4th season, we have sped through each episode like addicts and go into withdrawal as each season ends. It is a TV program that sinks into your psyche after 2 or 3 shows. The richness and complexity of this series requires that you start watching from the first episode to get a full appreciation of what this drama is all about.
What it is about is more than cops and robbers. This show is about our society and how it works (and does not work). Filmed and set in Baltimore, it focuses on the complexity of issues that we all too often approach with simplistic naivete. Each season has an over-arching theme focusing on entrenched urban issues such as drug ridden street corners, the docks, government corruption and incompetence, the schools, and how the press interfaces. All 5 seasons are woven together in a compelling portrait of our society’s darker side. The show reveals the inner workings of our cities including the foibles and follies that have been built into our institutions. We see urban failure laid out in clear detail on all levels from the street corners to city hall and higher. It is interesting that the final season (which I have not yet seen) deals with the press. Form the first few episodes, I was thinking that this TV show was telling the story that the press would not or could not tell.
The Wire was created by former Baltimore Sun police reporter David Simon. It uses the rich backdrop of a ravaged city and compelling work by unknown actors to give the show a very real in-your-face feeling. This could be any city and probably is every city. After watching this series you will not view a TV report the same way again. If you are interested in cities, this is a show you need to see.