HBO‘s American crime drama series, The Wire, was written by author and former police reporter David Simon. It was reported that the inspiration for the gritty crime show was loosely based on experiences from Simon’s partner Ed Burns, who was a former homicide detective. Delving into the law enforcement’s world of crime and the various institutions and systems of Baltimore, The Wire is still to this day considered possibly one of the grittiest, most realistic, and critically-acclaimed crime series of all time, and certainly one of the best HBO TV shows ever made. Let’s find out why.
The Wire Still Has a Relevant Narrative
The Wire carried parallel narratives about police and drug dealers, and eventually incorporated stories about teachers, dockworkers, politicians, and journalists. For five seasons, The Wire explored some of society’s most broken organizations, including the criminal justice system, politics, education, labor unions, and the media. In each case, the series’ expansive narratives explored how such systems chug along, frequently serving the interests of the wealthy while devouring those unfortunate enough to get caught in their track.
It can be argued that the show’s been named the best series of the 21st century because of its relevance still in today’s society. Diving honestly into what is wrong and still currently an issue in the police system, The Wire represents realistic and pressing problems, making it more than jut a TV show. It focused on avoiding easy victories, preferring to show corruption, failure, and decay in society.
However, to provide such realistic and important issues through the screen, Simon wanted to draw on real anecdotes and parts of dialogue, and believed that other writers were not accurately capturing the streets or lives of people living in poverty in urban areas. Viewers were encouraged to see television in a completely new and more novelistic, sprawling light, dealing with issues that, at the time, no other shows were interested in dealing with, revealing the simple drama of everyday life.
This was seen as risky, as it was unsure whether people would take interest in a show with such authentic situations, with no real heroes, and with such a sprawling ensemble which essentially covers all of Baltimore. As the seasons continued, the narrative, characters, and storylines did not disappoint, and while criminally underrated (and under-awarded) at the time, the series is frequently listed as the greatest television show of all time.
The Wire brought us characters who we could not help but get hooked on. From Idris Elba‘s menacing Stringer Bell to Michael K. Williams, who threw himself into his badass character Omar with courage. Omar became a legendary character, one whom even President Obama has raved about, with the haunting little phrase “Omar comin” practically signifying the beginning of the 21st century, and Williams plays him brilliantly. The actor, though he displayed several incredible performances throughout his career (from The Night Of to Boardwalk Empire), will always be immortal as Omar, even after his passing at 54.
Bringing life to those characters required serious actors. One of The Wire‘s most important legacies is the way it exposed TV audiences to performers who would later become hugely respected. Elba played one of the series’ most iconic characters and has since built a career ranging from Marvel movies to one of the best recent British television shows, Luther. Dominic West, playing Jimmy McNulty, has had similar success, such as his role in The Affrairand BBC’s miniseries Les Misérablesand is even set to play Prince Charles in the upcoming season of Netflix’s The Crown. Of course, not everyone is as they seem, and characters within the show shared its plot twists and emotional complexity, driven by personal feelings and animosity that are blended in to keep the viewers on their toes.
Thankfully, the acclaimed series produced one of the best casts in television history, so it is no doubt that this gritty series is worth binge-watching because of the outstanding acting abilities of the cast. Thankfully, The Wire produced one of the best casts in television history. Dominic West is essentially the protagonist as Jimmy McNulty, and injects the role with enough fire to transform him become an arrogant, disrespectful, and troubled yet extremely capable detective. Although, the show’s greatest contribution might just be in introducing a slew of rising actors, including the excellent Michael B. Jordan, who has developed as not only a brilliant actor, but is making his directorial debut in the third Creed.
Alexa Fogel, the show’s casting director, also defied industry norms by assembling a diverse cast that included stage actors, promising newcomers, complete novices, and even some of the real cops who served as inspiration for certain characters. The amount of Black actors cast on the show was remarkable for its time and helped set the standard for a more inclusive, diverse television landscape, sparking a resurgence of interest in African-American narratives.
Fans have even taken to twitter to express their love for the show even years down the line. One user said, “The Wire hands down one of the greatest show ever created. “Sentiments like this are constantly expressed, even two decades after the show. The Wire has confirmed its relevance today and all-around brilliance, proving why a plethora of polls rank it as the best show ever made.
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