We finally finished The Wire this past weekend, and I’m missing it already.
I’m not usually that interested in police series, which may be partly due to their ubiquity, but also partly because I often find the relentless grimness and tough-guy posturing irritating. I first took notice of The Wire when I started reading review after review and article after article claiming that, in all seriousness and hyperbole aside, it was the best drama on TV, maybe ever. And this was from trustworthy, sober sources. If I’d started the first series without having been exposed to all the acclaim I’d probably have thought that it was a better than average, if a little slow-paced, cop show. But I stuck with it, and it got better with every season as the characters deepened and the scope expanded. That’s what interested me; the fact that over time it became a portrait of an entire city, ranging from the housing projects and the world of the drug dealers (season one, although it continued as a plotline throughout all five seasons) to the union bosses in the ports (season two) to City Hall and the mayoral elections (season three) to the schools (season four, probably my favorite) to the newspaper offices (season five). It was probably around the middle of season three, when the “Hamsterdam” storyline was introduced, that I became seriously hooked.
I’ll keep an eye out for anything else by the creator David Simon (he has a new show called Treme set in New Orleans), and I bought the mini-series The Corner, which is a kind of precursor to The Wire, set in the same milieu and dealing with some of the same issues, so that’ll give me a quick fix, even if it doesn’t feature Bunk, McNulty, Omar or Bubbles.
It’s hard to find one clip to show you which gives a real sense of what makes The Wire great, as the realism, attention to detail, intelligence and scope come across in the wider storytelling rather than individual moments. So I’ve chosen one of the more famous comedy moments from season 1, where Bunk and McNulty investigate a murder scene. No spoilers here, but a few naughty words.