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  • I say that without a shred of hyperbole. The Wire's importance, beyond setting the standard for all modern television, is one of a historical document. 500 years from now, the show will surely be one of a handful that allows future generations to glean the state of American society during this time period -- it's problems, it's people, it's language, it's institutions, and the constant tension that exists when all of these are forced to coexist.

    This is due to the fact that the Wire, through nuance and true-to- life portrayal of human interactions, constructs an extremely lucid and heart-breaking evaluation of almost every aspect of society. Most of you reading right now wake up every day as a cog in the massive, interwoven, and fundamentally autonomous institutions which together make up a capitalist society. However, given that we are all a minuscule part of this larger whole, it is nary impossible to take a step back and objectively evaluate just how much influence these institutions hold over the course of our lives. It's not unlike trying summarize a 1000-page novel while holding a single random page less than an inch from your face. Our perspectives are inherently limited in this regard, and so too is any vain attempt to connect the pieces and make sense of it all.

    This point is one of the many reasons that the Wire warrants our time and careful consideration. From a bird's-eye perspective, each season builds on those prior until at the very end we have no choice but to reckon with vast tapestry of individual strands as a singular work. One that feels so true to life that it's near impossible for me to think of anything else, fiction or non-fiction, book or movie, painting or play, sculpture or architectural feat, which in their combined power holds the volume of educational lessons, thoughtfulness, humanism, pure ethos, or entertainment that the Wire does.

    "All the pieces matter," a quote that flashes across the screen at the beginning of an episode in Season One, is prophetic in it's understanding that the totality of something can have a much greater impact than its individual parts. And that is why I find it upsetting when reading reviewers which call the show "boring" or "slowly paced" or "overrated" and then go on to admit that they gave up watching before the end of Season Two.

    I am not a cynic by nature and in general tend to dismiss the common criticism that our generation is one that needs constant gratification all of the time in order to stay engaged with something for the long haul. But in this case, I truly believe that the Wire is so much different than what most people are used to watching on the medium of television that some may get confused or frustrated when the show refuses to pander to the standard beats and thrill-inducing plot devices on an episode-by-episode basis which we have been trained to expect with TV shows. There are no neatly wrapped episode arcs, no spoon-feeding over obvious plot points via voice-overs or flashbacks, and no musical score to tell us how a particular scene or moment should make us feel.

    Instead, the show forces us to become witnesses to a series of events in much the same way we would witness something unfolding right in front of us. Especially during Season One, David Simon and his creative team give us a lot of footage that looks like it should be from a documentary. This is all intentional, of course. The 4:3 film, the non-HD look, the way the camera seems to lack the traditional god- like power to always know that a character is going to say something important so that it shows us that character a second or two before they say their line (indeed, if you watch closely you'll notice that there are times that the camera will only pan to a speaking character after they begin saying their lines, giving the viewer the distinct feeling of a real-life situation unfolding in real time) -- all of these things are by careful design. And all of these devices add to the show's power because the characters become more real when depicted in this way. This makes it all the more devastating every time one of these characters is chewed up and spit out by the merciless wheels of capitalistic institutions surrounding them.

    I chose to write a review which differs from many of the others here because simply rehashing why I love Omar so much, or which season is the best, or why I think it's better/worse than the Sopranos or Breaking Bad are all things which are touched upon over and over again. Instead I wanted to provide my own analysis about why the show succeeds and stands apart of from others to the point where comparison is futile. Some people, including myself, think that the show will provide you with such an empathy-rich experience that when you have finished you may potentially see the world a little bit differently, that you'll feel a little bit closer to all of the people you share this country with, no matter how different their persona or background is from your own. By this measure, your persistence and patience given to the show will be repaid 10-fold.
  • jaoneal20 September 2006
    I don't subscribe to HBO. A couple of weeks ago I heard an interview with a young actor from this series on NPR. It was described as a "gritty crime drama" with many Baltimore locals portraying variations on themselves. The interview made it sound interesting enough that I decided to check out the first season on DVD.

    After the first few episodes I became seriously hooked and devoted 36 hours of the next ten days to the show.

    Having now watched the first 3 seasons, I believe it to be the best television series I have seen.

    I do not understand why this show hasn't generated the buzz or the awards of HBO's other series, such as the Sopranos or Deadwood. It is more gripping, faster paced, and more intelligent. The other shows can be a bit plodding, with plot lines that go nowhere, and a few characters I don't much care about. That wasn't the case here.

    The show is a cross between the Sopranos and the old NBC show Homicide: Life on the Street. The crime/sopranos side and the law/Homicide side run in parallel. Individually, the parallel plot lines are compelling. In tandem, they are complimentary and brilliant.

    There is no way to avoid having "the best show ever" tag sound like anything but silly hype--regardless, what makes this show substantially better than any other realistic and compelling crime or police drama is the fact it is... searching. It doesn't just delve into the individual psychologies motivating these people (ala the Sopranos) or the complex interactions amongst the members of a community (ala Deadwood) it asks "what the hell can be done for all of these people" and points out the problems with any and all of the answers.

    It's truly brilliant. If you like intelligent television, I envy the enjoyment you will have watching this for the first time.
  • Along with TV-shows like 'Oz', 'Deadwood', 'The Sopranos' and 'Six Feet Under', David Simon's 'The Wire' was part of a revolution - qualitywise - in television. Although it is very entertaining, this isn't just entertainment; this is art, pure and simple - and the concept of this show was groundbreaking. On the surface, one might think this is a show about crime, but really, 'The Wire' is about the life and soul of a whole city. Every aspect of the city of Baltimore gets its share of screen time, and the way this is done - the writing, the direction, the amazing performances by the terrific cast; the music, the camera work, the realism... I could go on and on - is just outstanding. On par with 'Generation Kill' (no wonder, since the same creative team was behind both), this is as good as television gets.

    Favorite films:

    Lesser-known Masterpieces:

    Favorite Low-Budget and B-Movies:

    Favorite TV-Shows reviewed:
  • Rarely do you see a show like this that has so much ambition in what it's trying to accomplish, and more rarely do you see a show like this succeed in it's intention of doing so. Let me introduce you The Wire, the best TV show put on small screens. The show that will, after you've finished it, live you empty inside, because you'll never find another TV show that can rival it. With it's five seasons, The Wire raised the bar of quality for TV shows, the bar that no TV show to date has managed to reach.

    The Wire's story is set in the city of Baltimore, and it's about the slow fall of Baltimore city, about the pointlessness of the war on drugs, the bureaucracy and corruption that infest both the police force and drug-dealing gangs, class war against the labor unions, and the city's dysfunctional public schools system. And it's all shown through the perspective of law enforcement and drug dealers. As the story goes, you'll encounter well thought out plot twists, and you'll see a lot of characters die, because, as David Simon said: "We are not selling hope, or audience gratification, or cheap victories with this show. The Wire is making an argument about what institutions—bureaucracies, criminal enterprises, the cultures of addiction, raw capitalism even—do to individuals. It is not designed purely as an entertainment. It is, I'm afraid, a somewhat angry show.", and that makes the show so great, because deaths have meanings and consequences, and aren't just there for the shock factor like in Game Of Thrones. It also helps that Simons knows what he's talking about since he was writing a lot for the Baltimore Sun, and he saw a lot of things on the streets that are portrayed in the show.

    One of the things I really love about The Wire is that characters aren't all good or all bad. They're gray, when it comes to their morality. Simon challenges the viewer to like characters, a lot of characters will do some bad things, and you'll probably agree on a lot of them given the situation they're in. The writing is just great, The Wire has a web of a lot of characters and the show spins them well. From McNulty to Stringer Bell, there are a lot of complex and great written characters, but there are also some weaker ones, but that's also to be expected, because the show has more than the hundred characters and you can't expect that they'll all be on the same level of writing. There is no plot armor in this show, a lot of characters will die, and, as I've already said, their deaths have consequences, and aren't just meant to be shock factor.

    Acting team consists of familiar HBO actors, and of real cops and criminals, and they all did a pretty damn good job. Some are weaker, and that is most notable during season 1 and 5, but weak actor aren't that usual in the show, so don't worry. I'd say the best actor is easily Dominic West as McNulty, who stole the show for me, but since I'm biased towards McNulty, don't take my word for granted.

    The only problem I had with the The Wire was one of fifth season's arcs, the one with the newspapers. It felt out of place for me, and it wasn't that interesting. It didn't introduce interesting characters nor was it on par with The Wire's better arcs.

    In the end, The Wire did what little to no TV show could hope to do, it succeed with it's extremely ambitious, and I'd say impossible mission to tell a story of Baltimore's crumble. The social commentary, the writing on the characters, the well thought out plot twists, great directory, and David Simon's expertise on the case made The Wire the best television show ever seen on small screens. Enjoy the ride while it lasts, because once it ends, you'll be left with an empty whole within yourself, because they'll never be a TV show that could rival The Wire. Now go watch it already!
  • This is the TV series that everyone should watch. On the surface it shows the never-ending cat-and-mouse chase between criminals and law enforcers, but below the surface it's a depiction of how corruption eats its way into each and every institution of power and a full and complete autopsy of a capitalist society.

    The Wire doesn't have a single scene that doesn't fit into the whole. It starts out by introducing the key players and the central theme. During the five seasons we follow some very realistic characters on both sides of the law, occasionally trailing off to the other side and then back again. It's never been harder to tell who the good guys are.

    This show is addictive, but an acquired taste. At first the bleak setting and hyper realistic portraits might put you off, but just watch one full episode and you will find that there is no coming back. You will find that each season comments each other in a way that is unseen in television.

    The Wire is a perfect series in all aspects. The writing is of course sublime as it relies heavily on real events. The characters are complete and some of them you will remember decades from now. The acting is effortless, some of the actors more or less play themselves. Cinematography has never been more realistic, we really feel like we are in there with them. Music, rarely used, sets the mood and gives a hint of how to interpret the theme.

    Watch it, then watch it again, and then again. You will have to see it many times in order to get all the nuances and facets. I guarantee you will change in the process.
  • Hate to be rude but don't pay attention to the moronic post below. That was some of the most lame criticism I have ever come across on this site. I doubt the guy even watched the entire first season. This show is the best thing going on TV. Writing. Direction. Acting. Its all perfection. The people behind the show are former journalists and police officers who were covering crime in Baltimore or working the beat as cops for over 20 years. They know what they speak of and don't rely on cookie cutter characterization. This is the closest thing to a novel that you will find on TV. It is so impeccably plotted and so honest and realistic that I will never be able to watch another cop show (or any TV drama) without comparing it to this example of television greatness. Did I mention its also the smartest TV show on the air too? The Sopranos gets the media attention but it can't match the sophistication and grittiness of The Wire. The Sopranos is a romanticized TV crime drama by comparison. And as for Six Feet Under? Please! It reached its peak in its final six episodes of the first season and haven't lived up to that magic since. It doesn't get any better than The Wire. Universal critical acclaim. The winner of the 2002 TV Critics awards. The winner of the 2004 Peabody award. Nuff said.
  • Possibly the best thing written for television ever; certainly the best to come out in the last 25 or so years.

    "The Wire" escapes the melodramatic pitfalls of shows like "the West Wing," "Six Feet Under" and even "The Sopranos" (which are all smartly written--or rather have had their moments of greatness).

    Here is a show which over the course of 37 hours weaves together scores of very tautly detailed characters. It's not easy to watch--and its certainly challenging. But it is surely worth it.

    The story unfolds in Baltimore and is a study on the effect of institutions on its members: police, politicians, criminals, addicts.

    Some may find the show didactic. This is understandable because its creators make heavy usage of allegory (for instance, seasons three's not-so-subtle criticism of the situation in Iraq).

    Didactic or not, the show forces its viewers to think about and hopefully start a larger discussion of the issues it touches upon: the failure of the drug war, the gradual extinction of the American worker and the dangers of a presumptive, preemptive war.

    Hats off to creators David Simon and Ed Burns (a retired BPD detective) for creating one of the most interesting, daring shows in the history of television.

    Let's hope HBO renews it for another 26 episodes.
  • This Review is aimed at anyone who has never seen the wire, but may have heard about it from about 3000 people recommending you should watch it. I watched the wire about 3 years ago well after the series concluded, and watched it in the same binge watching way I watched The Sopranos, Breaking Bad, and Game of thrones. I won't compare The Wire to these shows because they are not really comparable other than the fact they are some of the greatest shows ever, but are completely different. The wire isn't about drug dealing, the police, politics, or the education system, it is about the entire city of Baltimore. I'll admit The Wire isn't for everyone, it may be too violent or complex with the vast amount of characters and side stories for some, but I guarantee if you are a film and TV series lover and appreciate writing, acting, and an abundance of interesting characters, the wire is pretty much perfect in these regards. Each Season changes slightly in which facet of the city it will mainly cover, and becomes more complex as the series progresses. This show has without a doubt some of the most interesting characters, and best writing I have ever seen on a series. Even small side characters have intriguing stories that progress throughout the entire series, and I have never seen more attention to detail. This show isn't built up with such high expectations for people who haven't seen it for no reason, watch it , and there is about a 99.99% chance you will become one of those previously mentioned 3000 people recommending it to everyone you know who hasn't seen it.
  • =G=25 October 2004
    HBO's "The Wire", another ground breaking TV crime series from David Simon who grandfathered "Homicide: Life on the Street", raises the bar for crime dramas by dedicating a whole season (13 episodes) to a single story with unparalleled realism. Telling of a motley bunch of detectives who set about to bring down a Baltimore drug ring which supplies a black innercity housing project, the gritty 12 hour first year series slowly develops a broad range of characters from street punks to senators in a world where the blacks and whites of good and evil are reduced to shades of gray and everyone is connected by their humanity for better or for worse. Not the usual cops vs bad guys fare with episodic ups and downs, "The Wire" is one long drama about people which happens in a law enforcement and crime setting. For realists only, this series will require some viewer patience while the complexities of the plot and the characters are developed. One of a far. (A)
  • the wire is definitely the best show ever made. most realistic stuff ever. i takes a couple of episodes to get into it because it's pretty slow compared to the average show but once you get into it, you just become addicted. unlike other police shows this one deals with ONE investigation during its 4 entire seasons while in other shows cases are closed in one episode. another good thing about THE WIRE is that we follow both cops and thugs without any superficial caricature we find on CSI and such,THE WIRE keeps it real all the way. incredibly well written, amazing photography and oustanding actors, this is the kind of show that should be covered with emmies...
  • Like most,when Breaking Bad ended I asked myself the question..."What now?".

    Searching for something to fill the void,and something that would at least come close,I stumbled upon "The Wire".

    Having never heard of it I knew it was going to be a gamble,but judging by the IMDb rating it was a gamble I was willing to take.And I hit the jackpot!

    Drama,action,gripping story lines,good acting(for TV),and a genre that was right up my street i.e. Gangsters,Hip Hop(although liking Hip Hop is not essential to liking The Wire) Drugs and guns etc etc. What I also liked was how both sides to life are shown,from the police perspective to the Drug dealers perspective,and its not as black and white as it sounds.

    I don't want to go into too much detail so as not to spoil any of it,and you go in with fresh eyes,I guarantee you will not be disappointed.

    All 5 seasons were outstanding,and once ended you will feel like someone has left your life for good.

    So,"What now?".
  • You want to get close to the streets? This is it, and what a true American tragedy it plays out to be. The drama is scintillating, without being sensational. These are real people, in real life, with real struggles, played beautifully by an incredibly talented Dominic West and crew.

    True politics, true characters, real struggles, genuine, small triumphs,and a lot of poetic moments that are incidental and not self aware. Gotta love that.

    Impeccable. Everything I always wished from a crime drama. Check it out.
  • Season 3 of The Wire ended like a great novel, in a series of great novels, about crime, politics, "po-lice" and personalities in the City of Baltimore. The Wire truly has no equivalent on American TV, more akin to something like the British miniseries Traffik, or Robert Altman's Short Cuts, but really in a class by itself. The show also doesn't fetch the ratings of HBO's other blockbuster series, like The Sopranos or Deadwood, but so far the network has stood behind what is indisputably a creative / artistic success. Viewers accustomed to having a Tony Soprano or an Al Swearingen to latch onto may be daunted by The Wire's 2-dozen or so "main" characters, all given equal importance within multiple story lines. The concurrent tales all buoy one another, and as the season draws to a close, they begin to merge and compliment each other in unexpected ways. No detail is too small to not be done with great care, and no significant threads are left to hang, which also speaks to the brilliance of the writers.

    The Wire is no less than a dramatic triumph, and I can't wait for a new season.
  • This is not just a TV series about cops and drug dealers in the city of Baltimore, this is a rich, nuanced fresco showing the reality of our society. It's complex, fascinating and exhausting, all in one. No clean cut characters, no good-guys / bad-guys, no straight forward stories. Each season deals with a different subject: illegal drug dealing, international criminal organisations, social problems related to drugs, political corruption, the media. All of it pictured with such attention to details, in such a realistic and unbiased way, supported by such high-quality acting and writing, that you can be sure you won't be disappointed at any time. The series is slow-cooking style, with little especial effects and a rather conventional editing. This might sound old-fashioned, but the approach to the themes and characters is so honest that the result is simply classical, timeless. I read somewhere that, if people want to know about society in the 19th century, they should read Dostojevsky, and if they want to know about society in our times, they should watch The Wire. There you go. Enjoy it.
  • When I watched the first two episodes I can't stand it. After 5-6 episodes I can't get enough of it. After 2 seasons it was so real I felt like I was living in it. I've never seen a TV series like this and I doubt I ever will.

    The Wire is more like a literature than a drama. It cover every angle in such great detail that in the end I felt like I was standing in the corner, police station, dock watching them doing their things rather than watching a staged acting.

    Breaking Bad and True Detective are also two of my 10/10 favs but The Wire make them look like cartoons (Very good cartoons. Not in a bad way).
  • The day 'The Wire' ended was a sad day to me. Having to see some of my favourite characters in any medium (novels, TV, movies, etc.) for the last time felt like saying goodbye to my friends. Knowing that I will never be so involved in a series ever again is saddening. At the same time, however, I'm proud that 'The Wire' was taken off the air before it could have been potentially bastardized like many series before it.

    This show is a pinnacle in entertainment, and though never acclaimed with awards as it should have been, will go down as perhaps the greatest television series in history...and perhaps the greatest thing ever put to film. Literally, perfect.
  • My wife gave me the complete series as a Christmas gift and although the television series is more than a decade old now I do not feel it has lost any of its relevancy regarding crime and human nature over this past decade or two.

    There are a total of 60 episodes spread out over five seasons and there are just too many great performances and excellent story lines to mention them all. Suffice to say that the two main characters are two Baltimore city detectives. Jimmy McNulty (played by Dominic West) is a white Irish rebellious detective who will screw anyone to get to the criminal he is chasing. Along the way he hurts a lot of his fellow cops, his bosses and lets down his immediate family time and time again. With all his faults though once he gives you that great Irish grin of his all is forgiven, no matter what the circumstances.

    McNulty's partner is Detective William Moreland, better known around the station house and the bars simply as "Bunk" who knows McNulty best. Bunk is a heavy set well dressed black cop (played by Wendell Pierce) who likes to chomp on a cigar and drink hard liquor to extremes. Bunk has a lot of life in him, and is considered a cops impression of what a real detective should be. A hard drinking, womanizing, persistent cop who really wants to get the worst criminal elements behind bars serving hard time.

    Both Bunk and McNulty have ex-wives and two children but their lives really evolve around the city of Baltimore's urban city corners where drugs are always readily available, and murders are popping up within the walls behind condemned row houses by the dozens. The other two characters who deserve special mention are the drug lords, Avon Barksdale (played by Wood Harris) and Russell "Stringer" Bell (played by Idris Elba). Now these two gangsta's grew up on the city streets of Baltimore like many other city hoods but the difference is they had both street smarts and the will to kill anyone who got in their way. Theirs are interesting story lines throughout the series and keep the audience guessing what they will do next. No spoiler alert so I will defer from giving away too much on their path to destruction.

    Two characters who you can't help but feel compassion for due to their diverse journeys throughout the series are the drug addicted junk man Reginald "Bubbles" Cousins played to perfection by Andre Royo, and the shotgun wielding gay drug thief Omar Little, also played with fearless perfection by Michael Kenneth Williams. Now their lives when involved in any scene are never predictable and you cannot help but root for them to win. Hell, even the cops cut them a lot of slack as they can see that their hearts are big, but their minds are twisted after living on the streets their entire lives.

    I could go on and provide details on at least another dozen strong performances by other cops, attorneys, judges, police captains, shipyard workers, and even kids, but I suggest instead that you keep this crime themed television series on your "must watch" list and if you ever want to see a series that captivates the drug crime world of a major urban city such as in this Baltimore story you won't be able to stop watching until you watch at least a couple more episodes before you go to bed far too late in to the early morning hours because it is just that good a dramatic crime series. And isn't that really when the crime comes out? Late at night?

    I give it a perfect 10 out of 10 and a MUST SEE for a television crime and dramatic series.
  • You want to learn something about city politics, police corruption, drug dealing or how this tapestry of city corruption is woven together then watch The Wire. This is truly an excellent series, with superb acting, writing, directing, and truly outstanding characters.

    With season three starting Sept 18th I can wait. First season was drugs in The Projects, second season was down on the Baltimore docks, with longshoreman, drugs, prostitution, unions, and every changing need for dock workers and space for condominiums and all the politics that go in-between.

    This is a must see and makes HBO my #1 channel to watch. BTW, my favorite character is Omar (Michael K. Williams). Omar is kind of a modern day Robinhood. Steels from the drug dealers and gives to himself and his crew. This guy redefines cool. 10/10
  • For someone that isn't into the inter city 'drug' scene that wants to understand how 'the system' works The Wire is a great series. Drug Dealer/city politics 101. The so called 'good guys' and the 'bad guys' all have an 'agenda' and everyone is part of the 'food chain' that starts with the kids selling drugs in the projects and ends at the highest level of city government. As the series progresses we move up the food chain, learn how each level works and how each depends on the level below. Drugs is the glue that keeps the system together and money is the fuel that powers the entire system.

    The acting is top notch and blows away all competition in the genre. Here is hoping for season two as The Wire is right up there with The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, in interesting story line, exquisite acting, interesting characters, and creativeness.

    Lastly, the actor who plays Omar, Michael K. Williams, is absolutely great! Why haven't we seen this actor before? Michael dominates every scene he is in.
  • I am now unable to watch normal TV dramas as I compare them to The Wire and most fall disastrously short. The writing, multi-layered story lines and immense in-depth characterisations are second to none. Intricately written monologues speak more widely of the decay of society in contemporary America. The Wire focuses on the grey area in which criminals, politicians and the police operate, there is no "good guy, bad guy" mentality in this show. While the bad side of drug /gang wars is plain to see this show also addresses why such problems exist i.e the lack of adequate schooling, housing and the complete lack of community spirit. The police as an organisation are also shown to be as morally corrupt as the gangsters. With corruption and racism still a problem and the inertia of the commanders who rather than tackling problems are wholly consumed by their ambition for power and rank. No-one is singled out as good or evil but most are shown to be able to be both. The Wire deserves to be showered with awards and finally receive it's affirmation as one of the most daring, incisive and thought provoking TV shows of the modern era.
  • If you have missed THE WIRE, you have missed one of 2002's best television productions. The acting is superb, the writing is fantastic, and the direction is elegant. This is the armored underbelly of Baltimore at its most grim, accurately depicted and wonderfully detailed. This isn't merely great television, this is great drama, with heroes and villains who are never all good and certainly not all bad. The performances are, without exception, marvelous and everybody involved with this magnificent series deserves to be honored when they start passing out the awards.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    "The Wire" is a 60 hour-long novel, divided into five parts by its five seasons. Deep, complicated and interwoven, the series has a huge cast, all of whom are connected by multiple, overlapping and intersecting plot lines. Though the show initially takes the form of a standard "cops and criminals" tale, it soon becomes apparent that these lowly figures are mere pawns on a vast chessboard, the series gradually expanding to tell the story of an entire neoliberalized post-industrial city, and the institutions that attempt to serve it.

    We begin in the The Baltimore Police Department, an institution at the mercy of both a political obsession with the war on drugs and its own endemic incompetence. From here we expand to incorporate life on the streets, observing the street level foot-soldiers, the middle management lieutenants and the upper echelon barons of the drug trade. "The Wire" then turns its gaze to the longshoreman unions at the Baltimore docks, all of whom are suffering from a drop-off in commercial traffic and who unknowingly act as couriers for narcotics coming into the city. We then turn to the public schools, its inhabitants locked in a cycle of crime and poverty. This is a battleground between valiant teachers, disillusioned students and an indifferent City Hall. The series then expands further, turning its sights to the Democratic Party Machine and local newspapers. These institutions are likewise plagued by corruption and back scratching. Indeed, when an idealistic new Mayor comes onto the scene, he is promptly stymied by the crippling deficits left over by his predecessors and by political jockeying in the Police Department.

    It is important to note that the series focuses almost entirely on places of work, "The Wire" interested in the way in which the conflicts inside the state apparatus mirror those within the criminal communities. This includes not only the influence of the police on the illegal, subalternized capitalist economy, but also the ways in which the latter (through bribery, loans and money-laundering) underwrites the upper echelons of the state through the circulation of its accumulated wealth (at which point it becomes finance capital).

    So "The Wire" portrays a world caught up in an epic Darwinian struggle, the weak crushed whilst the strong are swiftly promoted. If crime as an analogy for business has become so common that it has morphed into an empty truism, "The Wire" at least reflects the fluctuating, noxious nature of contemporary capital. Gangsters who cling to old codes of acquisition are supplanted by savvier outfits who take the form of a kind of all-grasping oligopoly. But as fast as one cartel rises, it is replaced by yet another, each successive cartel more ruthless than the other. Significantly, all these gangsters rely on a mixture of old-style terror cell tactics (few people in the gang know the contacts of anyone else), modern technology and complex codes. This is not organized crime, this is business warfare, the gangs replicating state-like repressive structures that, like a legitimate organization, are ferociously hierarchal and strategically meritocratic.

    At its best, "The Wire" is a work of urban anthropology that attempts to show how the "invisible hand" of the market stretches out across an entire city. Unlike most crime films, which zoom in on "one of 8 million stories" (The Naked City), "The Wire" gently zooms out, attempting to trace commodities as they change hands and states. Context is king, but this desire for super-objectivity poses a problem, for the larger the society it attempts to reconstruct and incorporate into its narrative, the less socially explanatory "The Wire's" vision becomes. Everything is wired, everything is connected, but the more we zoom out, the more invisible these wires become.

    The cast recognises this, of course. As the detectives "follow the money" throughout the series, they eventually get lost in a world that has simply become too huge, too labyrinthine, for them to process. They trace the money from the streets to the skyscrapers, eventually getting lost in the tangle. It thus soon becomes clear that policing both bolsters an unjust status quo and represents a profound disavowal on the part of the state. Law enforcement (which ignores the circulation of capital) involves the fabrication of the "otherness" of the criminal, whilst the flow of money makes it clear that the supposed "other" is in fact constitutive of the state.

    Late in the series, when the detectives find the lair of one gangster, they are surprised to find no signs of crime. This is because the gangster has "laundered" his lifestyle, his money now having no connection to the drug world. This is the legal, whitewashed face of criminality, highlighted by the presence of Adam Smith's "The Wealth of Nations" on the gangster's bookshelf, a symbol which effectively links the sanitized world of finance with commodity exchange on the violent streets, capital changing hands, laundered and re-invested ad-infinitum.

    So these aren't ordinary gangsters. These are gangsters who study Business Administration and discuss the "elasticity of demand". Success in the criminal world is directly linked to feeding the consumer's desire. But though the gangsters largely supply product to drug addicts, they themselves are addicts, for they ruthlessly desire to accumulate.

    But not all "The Wire's" gangsters are the same. Some represent a tendency towards the formation of cooperative dealerships, others care only about self-interest, self-reliance and personal control, whilst others prefer instead to impose their own more neoliberal economy. Finally, there's a gangster called Omar, who represents a more romantic "Robin Hood" version of crime, taking advantage of the mistrust generated between the corporate and competitive styles, using guerrilla tactics to trick and rob local kingpins. On one hand, Omar becomes a local myth in his own short lifetime, but on the other, he violently debunks the myth of original accumulation.

    10/10 – "The Wire" has both rendered most previous crime/gangster movies obsolete, and set a trend for all modern crime films.
  • I recently purchased all five seasons of the wire and watched all the episodes over a month and a half period. Money and time well spent.

    The Wire is about the drug scene and Baltimore. Its as simple as that. Throughout the five seasons we get to see all walks of life in the detailing as to why the drug problem is so consistent. We see both the 'bad' guys who run the drug enterprise and the 'good' guys who try to stop them. We see stick up-men, lawyers, Mayors, police of all sorts, addicts, kids caught in the thick of it all of the character types that could get affected in real life are shown in this show.

    There are many well developed characters in the show, that's the thing that I thought the show did really well, the creators never discarded anything from previous seasons, they would sometimes bring back characters the viewer had all but forgot about.

    You really can't imagine how hard it was for the writers to write these characters stories in a way that seems relevant to the plot, it would be so convoluted and confusing, but as a credit to David Simon the show is really easy to watch.

    The Wire is a fantastic show, some realistic dialogue, masterful character performances (Andre Royo, Wendell Pierce) just to mention a few and the social commentary that invokes lots of thought and opinion, which is what I think Simon would have liked to see.

    No episode is boring, no episode is irrelevant, just a good top-notch crime drama of which its originality we may never see the likes of again. Certainly one of my favourite shows of all time.

    The Wire= 10/10
  • I have watched "The Wire" since it's debut on HBO. The deep story lines and character development make this an extremely captivating show. Realistic? Not really. It's better. I'm a 23 year veteran of a large law enforcement agency. Believe me, no one would want to watch a truly realistic police drama. It would be excruciatingly boring. "The Wire" captures the most dramatic and controversial aspects of police work, government, politics and bureaucracy and adds just the right amount of street grit, personal struggle, and action to make this show the fastest hour you can spend in front of a TV. The strong connections to the City of Baltimore, complete with accents and on-location filming compliment the gritty story lines and scenes. But "The Wire" is much more than a crime drama. "The Wire" delves deep into the hierarchy, customs and inner politics of the police, street gangs, organized crime, city and state government, the public schools and the media and exposes surprising correlations between each. "The Wire" dramatizes how none of these entities is immune from political corruption, backstabbing, misconduct, micromanagement, grandstanding, incompetent leadership, or coups.

    "The Wire", at its heart, is an entertaining, intriguing classic struggle between good and evil. The interesting part is trying to figure out who is which.
  • adashjr29 March 2008
    I am 39 years old and honestly can say THE WIRE is the best show I have EVER watched on television. Admittedly, I am not half the TV junkie as some of my friends but I can tell you this: NOTHING comes close and in my opinion, this show is a MUST SEE. I never even heard of the show until I chanced upon several very positive critical reviews of it in some mens magazines. On a hunch and a whim, I immediately joined NETFLIX and proceeded to watch all 4 seasons in 3 weeks time. Please, do yourself a favor, and do the same thing. I am NOT endorsing NETFLIX, I am just saying whatever method you choose to acquire the series, you MUST start at EPISODE 1, SEASON 1 and I DEFY you not to finish the entire anthology.
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