Thursday, May 17, 2007

It's all in the game

It's been said before and it will be said again: The Wire is a brilliant television show. I just finished watching season 1 and I feel fortunate to know that I will get to watch the next three seasons as quickly as Netflix can send them to me.

In my mind, the one thing that most sets The Wire apart from other cop shows is that it's not really a cop show, it's more. It's a drama about the city of Baltimore (and the decaying urban ghettos of America) that uses the struggle between cops and criminals to tell its story (I feel like series creator David Simon (who also created the brilliant show Homicide) might have said something to this effect in the audio commentary...). The Wire is unique (as far as I know) in that rather than just giving the viewer an in-depth look at police work, it gives the viewer an in-depth look at the drug scene in the projects. You see how both sides think and you come away understanding the whole situation in a lot more detail. You see numerous parallels in both the hierarchies and the types of people involved on the police side and the drug side. And best of all, the whole show feels incredibly authentic. The street slang is there, the cop slang is there, and the gritty Baltimore streets and projects are there.

Furthermore, the characters on both sides are incredibly compelling. Each episode ends with you dying to know more about them. But as this is a television show, this is also a function of the fantastic acting and writing of course. Most of the performances are wonderful, with Dominic West (Jimmy McNulty), Larry Gilliard Jr. (D'Angelo Barksdale), Sonja Sohn (Kima Greggs), Michael K. Williams (Omar), Andre Royo (Bubs), and Idris Elba (Stringer Bell) really standing out in my mind (Fine, everyone's amazing). In addition to the acting and writing, I love the music, both in the opening and closing credits. I dare you to listen to "Way Down in the Hole" just once.

Basically what I'm saying is that you have to watch The Wire. Now. I can't believe that I waited so long.

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