Category Archives: essay

The Wire: The Greatest Television

[This endorsement of HBO’s “The Wire” is taken from an email I sent my friend in March. This is essentially a first draft, so expect it to be loose and informal and not representative of solid writing.]

I just finished the 5th and final season – it has has been the most satisfying thing I’ve ever watched.  I’d commend this series more fervently then any crime flick, Scorsese included. And rest assured, this is the only television drama I’d ever urge you to consider.


The show is about Baltimore, a bleak, largely African American, impoverished rust belt city ravaged by drugs and failed institutions.  You’ll hear “The Wire” described as a crime drama, but creator David Simon says it’s “really about the American city, and about how we live together. It’s about how institutions have an effect on individuals, and how…whether you’re a cop, a longshoreman, a drug dealer, a politician, a judge [or] lawyer, you are ultimately compromised and must contend with whatever institution you’ve committed to.”

Season 1 is introduces the audience to two institutions – The Baltimore Police Department and the Barksdale Drug Syndicate.  The show is a serial, and the season 1 arc presents the investigation of the Barksdale organization by a cop who games the system to coerce his department to support an investigation that higher-ups want to ignore.

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