Best of 2022: Hey, The Wire is really good!

22 Dec

During the summer, I diligently watched “The
Wire”
, going at a rate of one episode per night. I stuck with it
during the not-so-great season 2 and made it through season 5 just to see how
it all ended. But season 1 and 3 were phenomenal. I’m reminded of a college
professor who said, about the movie “Traffic”, which had just come
out, that Steven Soderbergh could have written a thousand op-eds about the drug
war. Instead he created a 90 minute piece of art to illustrate it. David Simon
left journalism to tell a multi-faceted tale of Baltimore through the eyes of
its poorest citizens and the police officers who play cat and mouse. What they
all have in common? Drugs.

You can understand, on an intellectual level, that the drug war is a failure
and that it has devastated the inner city. But you don’t truly grasp the human
cost until you see it play out in this look at Baltimore. From local politics,
to the drug addicts of the projects, to the courts, to local police, to public
schools, and more, “The Wire” shows it all. A brilliant cast brings
the stories of this world to life- there is not a false note among any of them.
A particular standout is Michael K. Williams as Omar, the gay Robin Hood of the
‘hood who strikes fear into the heart of the criminals of East Baltimore.
Watching him on the show just made me miss him and all the great work he could
have done.

The show isn’t without its flaws. As I watched seasons 1 and 2, I kept
wondering, where are the women in this world? We have one police officer, and
an attorney. But this is largely a men’s world. This is just something to
accept as you watch. It’s a testosterone-driven world. Also, we spend a lot of
time with cops in this world. Is “The Wire” just copaganda, looking
at inner city crime and asking us to sympathize with law enforcement at every
turn? This might be true if all we ever saw was the law enforcement
perspective. But we see the drug trade from every aspect. “The Wire”
shows Baltimore and all its flaws from every angle, from the most powerful to
the least. I’m so glad I finally watched it.

Maybe next year I’ll finally watch The Sopranos?

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