|Posted on February 25, 2010 at 12:55 AM|
Created by David Simon, filmed in Baltimore, and broadcast on HBO from 2002 to 2007, The Wire is undoubtedly the greatest show ever made. The series depicts America's ongoing War on Drugs in a city crippled by poverty, corruption and gang violence. The scope of perspective shifts from law inforcement, to the docks, the school system, the press, and city hall; as well as street dealers all the way up to their kingpins. The lines between good and evil couldn't be any more blurred in this deeply complex, highly realistic city saga, posing as a generic cop drama.
The Wire is ultimately about how individualism and personal morality are compromised by one's environment. Good people are coerced into doing horrendous things; with each savage act justifying the next, and those who act against this broken system are cast into exile... or to the bottom of the Patapsco River. While I’ll be examining this remarkable series more in the future, I just thought I’d jot down some initial thoughts. The acting and the writing are staggeringly good, and the level of detail and nuance committed to each scene continues to flaw me upon subsequent viewings. And whatver weighty themes underpin the show, the characters themselves are layer, fully realised creations, who are beautifully portrayed by a largely local cast.
Look at the series as a whole and you'll realize that not a single line or frame is wasted. Everything serves a purpose; everything is connected to form a visual novel so ambitious and satisfying that all other television pales in comparison. I used to enjoy shows like Law & Order and The Shield, but after witnessing this tragic masterpiece, you realize just how formulaic; how shallow those shows are. Diane Werts said it best: "Most TV crime series aspire to John Grisham's level. The Wire aspires to Dostoevsky's."