The A-bomb and I just finished our run of five seasons of “the Wire” and I’ve got to take ten minutes out my usual writer-ish/psuedo-whine/metal rantings to extol its virtues. Quite simply, it’s one of the single best television programs I’ve ever seen. It’s better than Deadwood. It destroys the Sopranos. Though at a pinch I might be able to pick shows I enjoyed a little more, I couldn’t pick a show that was better written, that had such incredible depth, scope, and attention to detail. The writers on this show were simply brilliant at their jobs, and if I ever write anything half as gripping as this series, I’ll consider my time here well spent.
If you haven’t watched it, seriously, do yourself a favour. In an age where a TV show with teenagers singing cover songs is lauded as the height of chic, the bravery and skill of the Wire’s creators should be sung from the highest rooftops. Put simply, it is absolutely fucking brilliant.
Five reasons why I loved it:
1) Constant evolution. This isn’t a situ-drama, this is a show where the goalposts are constantly moving. The premise for season one is completely eroded by the end of the thirteenth episode, and yet the writers continue to take us on a journey with those core characters for another four seasons, and it’s fucking riveting. Characters drop like flies along the way, agendas shift, alliances change. You start to love some of the bad guys, and hate some of the good guys. You honestly have no idea where it’s going, or how it’s going to end. It’s like riding a goddamn roller coaster with the lights switched off.
2) No black and white. This is a program about the slow collapse of an entire city, and the theme of corruption is rife throughout. You’re watching the story of regular people – not heroes, not villains, just some people trying to do some good, and other people trying to do bad. The “good guys” are alcoholics, control freaks, thieves, liars, adulterers and murderers. These are the good guys. The bad guys are poets, philosophers, family men and children. There is right and wrong, sure. But good and evil?
3) No happy endings. There’s no Death Star to destroy so we can all go home and swap medals and flirt with our sisters. There is no great Machiavelli on the streets, or even if there is and the good guys take him down, there are half a dozen more ready to step in and take his place. Our heroes have their fingers in the dyke, and the masonry is collapsing all around them, and they know it. And still they struggle to hold back the tide. While being drunks. And cheating on their partners. And creating criminal conspiracies so large that they engulf the entire city. The Wire smacks of desperation, of the ultimate futility of man’s struggle against corruption and degradation and fat, ugly greed. And yet, still, we fight.
4) Attention to detail. It’s the little things. Like when Duquan takes a beat down, and three episodes later he’s still got the scab on his cheek from where he got cut. Or when McNulty shows up to work the next day wearing the same suit, and nobody says anything about it, but you’re thinking to yourself “Jimmy, you cheating bastard…”. Or when he says goodbye to Beadie and leaves via the front door, and they cut to show Beadie’s expression and the curtains behind her move because someone in the continuity department realized that when McNulty left, the door would let in the breeze and move the curtains and oh my fucking god how did this show not win every Emmy in every category for every year it was on….
5) The characters. They are brilliant. They are real. You love them and you hate them. McNulty (“What the fuck did I do?”). Greggs. The Bunk (the only character in history to refer to himself in the third person and pull it off). Herc and Carver. Daniels the man of steel. Prez the evolving man. Mike and Dookie. Avon and D’Angelo (the chess master). Bodie. Stringer. Chris, Snoop (“how’s my hair look, Mike?”) and Marlowe. Bubbles! Cutty! Lester!! And possibly the greatest character ever written in a TV series, the man who took the title from Al Swearengen and jammed it where the sun don’t shine, my man Omar.
There are scenes and lines in this show that I will never forget. There are scene that gave me goosebumps, that made my heart pound harder because they were so well written, and that I will try my best not to riff off when I’m writing in future. Imitation is the highest form of flattery as they say, but still, I got my limits.
Watch this program. Don’t steal it. BUY IT. The creators deserve it. The actors deserve it. You won’t regret it.
You feel me?
.anac ‘nignils yb revo ‘nitteg srehtorb gnuoy, emag eht fo eman eht s’taht, seog ti yaw eht s’tahT