Why The Wire Still Matters
Around the late ’90s to early 2000s, HBO started to dominate television. They changed the landscape of TV, forever. With original programming, that network television simply couldn’t match. Not only because of their restrictions but because the writing just wasn’t as good. Shows like Oz, The Sopranos, Sex and The City and Six Feet under, all took front and center, with much versatility and depth. As well as creating stars out of TV actors, like James Gandolfini and Sarah Jessica Parker.
Before this time period, movies were all the rage, TV wasn’t really in serial format. And an actor taking a TV job meant a death blow to their career. Fast forward to 2019. Do you see how this era shaped today? However, one such show from this time may still get overlooked. Through it all, it may be the best HBO had to offer. Or anyone had to offer. The Wire.
The Wire debuted in June 2002, with a largely unknown cast. The cast was predominantly black, and some even British. There was no big star. I believe that was the point. That characters were not the focus and that they were mere backdrops to the plot. The city of Baltimore. With all, it’s meanings and examinations of society. This isn’t a slight on the acting or the actors. They were likely the most brilliant and versatile cast ever assembled. I’m simply pointing out there was no Tony Soprano.
I believe The Wire is the best show to ever grace TV. Not because that statement is law or set in stone. It’s of my opinion, that the realism, impact, and storytelling was at the top of the mountain. Each season of the show explored a theme. With each season telling a tale of disfunction within American institutions and the cause and effect of these societal ills. Drugs, politics, the press, unions, and schools. All woven into the fabric of Baltimore. It never copped out or wrapped things up nicely. It told things how they are. A risky formula for tv.
I admit this show isn’t for everyone. While it did have underrated humor, like the Bunk character, etc. It was slower-paced and more methodical than most. I realize that isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. For someone like me, and it’s legion of cult fans, it was perfect.
I haven’t even mentioned Omar yet. Or Idris Elba as Stringer Bell. How many people will remember him for that? I feel like The Wire is still a fraternity when it comes to fans. It has trendily caught on with the college generation, yet still not worldwide. Maybe someday it’ll get its full appreciation.
Until then, let The Wire be great. After all, You come at the King, you best not miss.