Thursday, August 2, 2007

The Wire

It's a slow day today so I thought I'd make a TV show recommendation. As Missy's gotten bigger, we've spent more time taking it easy in front of the TV (twist my arm...). We've had a chance to make it through the first four seasons of The Wire, an HBO show. This is the best TV show I've ever seen by a mile, and I say that with Sopranos in mind, as well as Bev Niner. Yea, this is serious. I'll pause while you catch your breath.

The show depicts the Baltimore drug scene from the perspective of the law, the street and the government. It's not an easy show to watch. Not because of graphic content (although it can be a little rough) but because the story is complex and subtle. Each season's story is like a novel with a story arc that develops over the course of the whole season. To appreciate the show, you've gotta start with episode 1 and really pay attention. The payoff is awesome though. Unlike most TV shows that are made to be consumed in small standalone chunks, this show contains lots of detail that might be left alone for episodes at a time only to resurface as a main story line later on. Minor characters end up coming to the forefront; major characters die off or fade away. It's a lot different than anything that's out there. This is not a crime drama with good guys and bad guys. In fact, half the time you find yourself sympathizing with drug dealers, not cops. It also does not attempt to provide solutions to the drug problem and poverty in America. Preachy shows annoy me and this isn't one. In fact, it drives home the point that cities are messed up and any solution will also have consequences. A cynic like me appreciates that sort of realism. If there were easy answers, there wouldn't still be a problem.

Briefly, Season 1 focuses on the drug trade (gangs mimic businesses more than you think, complete with management hierarchy and "corporate" stress), Season 2 on the ports (unions, death of the middle class), Season 3 on reform (policing, politics, more focus on drug trade), Season 4 on education and politics (mayors race, kids making the street vs school decision) and Season 5, which isn't released yet, on the media's role in all of this.

Why is it called The Wire? One of the central themes throughout all the seasons is wire-tapping and using technology to police the drug trade.

The best endorsement I can give is that we've both been left speechless after heavy episodes.

Missy might be a bigger fan than I am. One of the best parts of the show we didn't even realize is that we both have a new vocabulary. For example, hoppers are young kids that take drug orders. Mos def means most definitely. "He got got" means he got killed. Go buy The Wire, you will love it too.

The picture is of Stringer Bell, one of our favorite characters for those who already watch. Bill Simmons points out that he looks like Alonzo Mourning. Good call.

If you need independent confirmation, here are some other reviews of the show:
Bill Simmons, the SportsGuy (go to the bottom of the article)
NY Times on Season 4
Tim Goodman, SF Chronicle. By the way, I'd bookmark his blog - he writes excellent reviews of all kinds of shows


Mama Cools said...

Thanks for this! I need tv suggestions b/c i have a lot of feeding time and there is tons of crap on tv, especially during the summer and at 3am. Mos def will put this in our netflix cue.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the WIRE review...good job, Cas. I would like to know about the artist...very nice. love you

Drew Brennan said...

Thanks Cas. While I don't watch a whole lot of "series" TV, this sounds right up my alley. I guess this gives us all a glimpse into the lives and times of Kerry and Meg Cavanaugh. They got got one of their neighbors the other day. I wouldn't mess with them.