Posted on July 19, 2009
I haven’t written on any pop culture topics for a while and can’t resist sharing my recommendation for BEST TELEVISION SHOW ever produced. There some great contenders for this honor and I’d include among them The Sopranos, Homicide: Life on the Streets, and Seinfeld. But having watched four of five seasons, my vote has to be for The Wire.
It ended in 2008 after 60 epidodes over five seasons and we had never watched it during its run, but I bought Pat the box set for Christmas and we are addicted. The show is set in Baltimore and while ostensibly a crime drama, it is so much more. It is urban Sociology made art and drama. It unfolds slowly, but comes to take in not only drug gangs and the police (oftentimes as violent and craven as those they pursue), but government, schools, newspapers, unions, clergy, and more. It is sociological and broad and yet we come to care deeply about the characters, themselves complex and defying type.
Creators and writers David Simon (no surprise to find that he wrote for Homicide)and Ed Burns, a Baltimore Sun reporter and Baltimore cop in their respective pasts, have a masterful ability to create realistic and nuanced characters. Many of them are based on real people they knew in Baltimore and, better yet, a number of them play parts in the drama even though they are not professional actors. My favorite is the real-life gang leader that plays a deacon.
The Wire has received effusive praise from critics. It deserves it. If you have not seen it, splurge on the boxed set (the extra features are terrific) or get it onNetFlix, but get it in all events. It is better than 98% of what you’ll see at the movies or any channel on your television.