Through The Wire

The title of this post is actually the first Kanye West song I heard in college, back when his jaw was wired shut following a car accident, check it out if you aren’t familiar with it.  However, the real wire this post is about is something entirely different: the HBO TV series “The Wire”.

Originally running from 2002-2008, I had only heard of the show because it followed my previous favorite TV series (The Sopranos), and I had a few friends that raved about it.  Fast forward to 2010, Chelsea and I were looking for a new series to get in to, so I convinced her to try it out.  We started watching occasionally back in May, and finished the very last episode this weekend.  I think I can speak for the two of us when I say that it is definitely an amazing series, and one we would recommend watching.

The show is set in Baltimore, Maryland and follows the Baltimore police department around through various investigations and wire-taps.  But it is so much more than that.  It isn’t your typical cop drama with a series of self-contained episodes and a general theme.  Each season in centered on, and tackles, a particular theme ranging from drugs to shipping to schools to politics to media.  Pictured above are two of the main characters, and two of our favorites.  And for a fun fact, at least two of the major characters in the series are British, (one of them above) but you might not be able to tell because their accents are so good.

Many critics agree that the writing on the show is outstanding, not only for its character development and storytelling, but also because of the realism it portrays and the issues it addresses.  They even managed to make shotgun-toting gangster Omar pictured above, and the drug kingpin Prop Joe below, likable guys.

I have two basic criteria for what makes for a good TV series.  The first is that when watching, I lose track of time.  Each episode actually goes by so quickly, that when I get around to looking up on the display of the DVD player, there are only 5 minutes left.  This is a testament to the writing really drawing me in.  I only remember this happening with two other series: The X-files, which I made Chelsea watch with me, and The Sopranos, which I’ll make her watch in the future.  Actually, the moment with the X-files always happened during the last commercial break, right as each episode really heated up.

The second basic criterion is that you get so involved with each of the characters, that you feel like you know them.  Another example of excellent writing.  This happened with The Sopranos in college to the point where one of my roomates started smoking cigarettes like Silvio, and we started calling him Bohmassio instead of Bohm.  Well it has happened again with “The Wire”.  Knowing that we only had one episode left, we were still curious how they would handle the rest of the storylines.  I’m happy how everything tied together in the end, but a little sad because Jimmy McNulty and crew won’t be around anymore.

The good news is that we have plenty of other series to fill the void.  Next on our list are: Dexter, Mad Med, and Breaking Bad in no particular order, along with some “girly” series to lighten the mood a little.  If you have any other suggestions, please leave them in the comments.

7 thoughts on “Through The Wire”

  1. I’ve made this suggestion a thousand times, but LOST is the best series that I have seen. It definitely fulfills your criteria of losing track of time and great character development. It waxes philosophic without beating you over the head with it and combines elements of action, drama, mystery, sci-fi, medical drama, and police procedural. The characters are outstanding and will suck you in in the first 3 episodes. I’ve heard it compared to The Wire many times with both sides stating they are excellent shows. If you liked the X-Files, you’ll probably really enjoy it.

  2. Zane doesn’t know what he’s talking about. LOST sucks and is one of the most overrated shows on tv recently. Watch Rescue Me, great show, great characters, great acting… very very underrated.

  3. Dave clearly doesn’t know good television when he sees it (or hasn’t seen since he didn’t give any concrete examples of why LOST is not excellent). I will admit it’s not for everyone and it takes a little bit of effort on your part to get the most out of it, but I thought the payoffs were well worth it. Rent the first disc, if you aren’t interested, give up. No loss except for 3.5hrs, which there are worse things in the world.

  4. The Wire is AWESOME!!!!! But beware. Season 2 is a little disappointing. I’ve heard 3 and 4 get better again, but I haven’t got there yet. Season 2 was apparently during the writer’s strike.
    Other shows you will love- Man Men (great!), Dexter (probably my favourite show ever), (True Blood (saucy), Six Feet under (if you didn’t watch it first time round, I suggest you watch now. I watched all four seasons in a month using Netflix- delivering DVDs not online). Infanger has been told SEVERAL times to watch Dexter.

  5. I reluctantly revise my previous criticism. Alot of people like LOST, I do not. Way too much craziness with little direction.

  6. Mad Men is just superb: watch it next. I need to see what Dexter is all about, but in the meanwhile you really owe it to yourselves to see Golden Girls (at least Seasons 3-5) and Miami Vice (Seasons 1-3).
    Alias is also a pretty great show; it preceded Lost (which I’ve never seen).

  7. I just remembered, that if you guys really enjoyed the X-Files, you could check out Fringe. It’s sort of the X-Files spiritual successor. It has that “Creature of the Week” feel while having a really strong over-arcing plot. I really enjoyed the first two seasons that have aired so far.

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