HBO’s “The Wire”

The success of “The Sopranos” allowed HBO to put up a slew of similar shows, unable to match the quality of the channel’s original crime family hit. But a few have measured up quite well. Of these, there is probably no better example than “The Wire.”

Set in contemporary Baltimore, season one begins with a relatively simple plot: a special investigative unit in the Baltimore City Police Department is tasked with busting up a drug-ring run by gangsters in the city’s western housing projects. From here, as the investigation gains steam and the seasons pass by, things become a bit more complicated as the detectives begin to make connections between the drug-ring and various members of the Baltimore community. The result of all this is anything but the standard version cops and robbers. The show paints nuanced portrait of Baltimore, exploring how the city deals with its crime problem, but also depicting daily life in the city’s various ethnic and economic subunits.

Through all of this, creator David Simon is able to maintain a stark sense of realism. This especially comes through in how the Baltimore City Police Department functions. Instead of working like a well-slicked machine, “The Wire’s” police department often barely functions. Indeed, many officers make a habit of brutalizing petty criminals and commanders don’t pursue difficult cases in order to keep their stats positive, just to name a few things.

Along with this engaging plot, the show is bolstered by a competent acting core: including, Lance Reddick, Michael Kenneth Williams, and Dominic West. This combination makes for a both thrilling and thought provoking viewing experience.

*Unfortunately, “The Wire” like many great HBO shows, came to an end last year after a five year run on the network.

Nathan Walker
nwalker02@hamline.edu

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