“No one wins. One side just loses more slowly”
“Fuck the casual viewer” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fEkfSx8hujw
David Simon, writer and creator, said this in an interview regarding the audience of The Wire. And he did, literally. Not. That is an example of the kind of uninspired, insipid and frankly lazy writing that pervades a vast swathe of generic young TV shows these days. This is a trap that Simon never falls in to during five glorious seasons of The Wire. http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Wire-Complete-HBO-Season/dp/B001BBHG1S/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1349021607&sr=8-1
Whilst creating a story that spanning all social classes in the US city of Baltimore, The Wire simultaneously maintains a dialogue that appeals to the disaffected black youth that the majority of the show portrays, as well as a middle class, white well-educated fan base making it almost unique. But how? Through his background as a Baltimore Sun reporter Simon has an extensive and unparalleled familiarity of the subject matter. Throw in writers like Ed Burns (former police detective), Bill Zorzi (Baltimore Sun politics correspondent), George Pelecanos (fiction author) and you soon see how an encyclopaedic knowledge has evolved. What they managed to create was a complex masterpiece that is my own personal favourite.
From the deadly consequences of childhood life to the comedic relief of the serial Kafkaesque intoxication of Bunk Moreland and Jimmy McNulty in Season One right through to the moral ambiguity of newspapers and changing of an empire in Season Five, The Wire asks questions of us and those around us at both macro and micro level of society.
Simon has created a world where no one belongs. Everyone feels trapped by some form of societal occurrence. Be it work, family, social class or even their race, no subject is left untouched by this genius. Even the characters are different from the norm. From night school attending drug kingpin Stringer Bell, to lesbian police enforcer Shakima Greggs and gay drug robber Omar Little- all are given fully fleshed parts defying stereotypes.
WARNING: – This is not easy to get in to. As Simon said, “Fuck the casual viewer”. In fact, I myself had four attempts at Season One before finally becoming obsessed. Season Two also comes as a shock starting with an almost entirely new cast and storyline in a different setting and subculture. However as Slim Charles says during Season Three in a veiled reference to the Iraq War (covered by Simon in the brilliant Generation Kill), ‘once you in it, you in it’.
The drama will enthral, the comedy will relieve tension and the almost unintelligible Baltimore drawl and slang (I am not distracted by subtitles so have watched all five seasons with and without them finding that it enhances my own personal experience) used in the writing creates yet another impressive layer to the authenticity of the piece.
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