Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Wire, RIP

It's been a few months now that The Wire concluded its run on HBO, and I meant to write something sooner, but better late than never I guess. It's a five-season epic about modern Baltimore and its corruptions, including (just for starters) drug dealers, cops, dockworkers, lawyers, newspapers, politicians, and the education system. If you haven't seen it, go out and get the DVDs. Otherwise, it's pretty difficult to describe the narrative immensity of the show. Critics like to throw off parenthetical comments like, "Obviously The Wire is best show ever made for television but....." I don't know if I agree with that or not, but at the minimum it's not a ridiculous idea.

There's too much in it to rehash here, but for now I'll just mention that the show sometimes succeeds in spite of itself. David Simon, one of the major creative forces behind the show, is a notoriously bitter and angry man. And he freely admits to using the show as a vehicle to settle scores, both personal and ideological. But for me at least, the show isn't compelling because of the failures of capitalism in modern urban America, but rather because we care, very much, about the characters in it, whether cops or criminals. And we care, in spite of the fact that their lives are much different than ours in bourgeois America, or maybe even because of it.

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