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you feel me?

The Wire is one hell of a good show. I started getting into it after a few friends of mine kept bringing it up. They were all like, “You gotsta watch it.” After I downloaded the first season, I couldn’t ever get through the first 15 minutes of episode 1. It was so dry, like the boring, drawn-out parts of a novel. But my buddy Edwin told me that I just had to get through the first 3 or 4 episodes, then I’d be hooked. I got through the first few episodes, now I’m sold.

What is The Wire? I have a hard time answering this question. It’s kind of like a television version of the movie Crash for its social insights. It’s also a cross between CSI and Law & Order. I’ve seen CSI, but never Law & Order, but there are courtroom scenes in The Wire as I’m sure there are in Law & Order. The show takes place in the city of Baltimore, Maryland. I never really thought that much about Baltimore. Oh, it’s some city in Maryland that has a football team (Ravens) and a baseball team (Orioles). Since I started watching this show, I’ve driven through Baltimore on my way home and to New York on two occasions, and I can’t help but look at the city differently. I almost look for what I see on the show. This show put Baltimore on the map for me. The Wire isn’t just a crime show. It’s a show that has taught me that this world is a lot more messed up than we think it is. Everything that is part of a system is swayed by selfish human agenda and ambition. The creator of the show David Simon puts it best when he says the show is “really about the American city, and about how we live together. It’s about how institutions have an effect on individuals, and how whether you’re a cop, a longshoreman, a drug dealer, a politician, a judge or a lawyer, you are ultimately compromised and must contend with whatever institution you’ve committed to.”

I’ve learned a variety of things from this show. I learned that a lieutenant outranks a sergeant, a major outranks a lieutenant, a colonel outranks and major, the deputy ops outranks any major and the commissioner is the head honcho. At least, this is the case in the police force. I learned that it’s not just about busting bad guys, but about being smart enough to find evidence, devise a strategy to build a case that will hold up in a court of law. I’ve learned that much of the United States isn’t what I’ve seen. Even living in New York City for the past 4 years, I really haven’t seen anything. Even watching this show, I don’t really know, but what I see on the show is so astounding that it must be true. I’m astonished by the way the show portrays kids from the slums and the projects. When I hear stories about how bad it is in public schools in big cities, I really do not have any idea. I watch this show, and I’m a little saddened and discouraged by how fucked up this world seems. If it’s not money that drives people, it is pride and the thirst for power. Everywhere from the streets where drug deals are made to downtown offices where politicians make big time decisions. Nothing is as it seems. We are constantly at odds with our own agenda and a system that only works if everyone can cooperate and strive for the same good. However, we live in a world where we are not willing to believe that people can look out for one another. Therefore, people become selfish because they don’t think that others can be selfless, and it’s this vicious and ugly cycle where the next man gets ripped off or left to fend for himself. I know the show is fiction, but I see middle school kids beating other kids up with bats. I see youngin’s part of the drug scheme on street corners. I see people who are fiends for drugs. I see public school systems where kids don’t learn shit and can’t even read. I see dead bodies, victims of unnecessary conflict. Yes, people get paid to write this stuff, and HBO produces it into a show. But, it’s not beyond reason to believe that this shit actually happens.

Lately, I’ve been pressing this show upon everyone. I love the way the people from the ghetto talk; they’re slang be tight as shi’ yo. You feel me? But, if you watch this show and you don’t realize that the world is like this, then you may need to peel your eyelids back a little further. The show is best described as very real. It’s a portrayal of an American city that from the bottom up or the top down suffers from corruption, greed, green (money) and a system that fails to serve its people. Also, it illustrates people in a very real way. The show hits at our internal struggle to do what we feel is right over what we are asked to do or what we feel is “better” for us in the long-run. There is no saint in the show, no real good guy or bad guy. Everyone is just a player in the game. You can choose to cooperate with it or you can choose to turn away from it. One way or another, you will be interacting with people who play the game or in some cases, are played by the game. By interacting or associating yourself with people (because we are a social species), you are inherently placing yourself a player in the game as well. It cannot be escaped. I think the best solution is to either create a new game if you can’t escape the one you’re in or completely change it.

Suggestions for watching the show: remember who people are and their relation to other people. Otherwise, everyone individual is someone random, and the show doesn’t seem nearly as intelligent. Read the quotes at the beginning of the show and look out for them during the show to see in what context they are said. Lastly, things from the past seasons cross over so don’t neglect to remember things from prior seasons. Each season focuses on a different facet of the city of Baltimore. In order, they are:  the illegal drug trade, the city port system, the city government and bureaucracy, the public school system and the print news media.

My favorite quote from season 1 is:  “You follow drugs, you get drug addicts and drug dealers, but you start to follow the money and you don’t know where the fuck it’s going to take you.” – Lester Freamon

Lastly, my favorite character is this guy Omar Little. Watch out for him. He’s a smart cat. Love the dude. Watch the show and let me know what you think. It’s great, trust me.

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. June 21, 2010 at 2:13 pm

    The Wire shows some pretty stark and upsetting things, but I would stress that it also has examples of hope. We may be compromised by the system or the game we’re born into. Sometimes fate and situation seem so much bigger than the individual who’s treated like a pawn. But there are those who struggle and try to stand up for something, who try to improve the system, make someone’s life better. McNulty may say “Shit never changes,” but with enough awareness and effort, things do. Anyways, the risks of believing otherwise are too great.

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