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Soapbox: Give The Wire a Chance

Here's how much critics love The Wire: The show's Wikipedia page has has a running list of major publications, including Time and Entertainment Weekly, that have called it the best show on television. Yet the show, which kicks off its fifth and final season of exploring the darkest side of Baltimore on Sunday, has been mostly ignored by both awards shows and viewers.

As a relatively recent convert to the show myself, I can understand why it's had a tough time. The show doesn't hold your hand; it throws you headfirst into a world with dozens and dozens of characters, from drug dealers and their bosses to city government to dock workers to middle schoolers to the cops who step in when things go horribly wrong. I had to watch the pilot twice before I knew a single character's name, and it wasn't till the halfway point of the first season that I was confident I knew what was going on. The show is also unflinchingly realistic — which can make it seem brutally bleak. People are shot and killed, for any reason and no reason; sometimes good triumphs, but the picture is usually murkier than that.

Still, it's not all darkness and destruction, so


For one thing, the show is funny — it's a subtle humor, an ironic humor, but it often makes me laugh out loud. For another, the main characters are complex but ultimately sympathetic; Detective Jimmy McNulty (Dominic West) has made more bad decisions than I can count (and I'm only partway through the third season!), and yet I can't help but root for him. And the show certainly deserves credit for its ambition, exploring what makes a modern city run — and falter — one piece at a time.

This final season focuses on the media, with segments set at creator David Simon's old employer, The Baltimore Sun. I'm rushing through my DVDs on Netflix so I can be ready for the series' finale; will any of you be watching with me? To watch a preview for this season, just


Photo courtesy of HBO

Join The Conversation
boosh-bitch boosh-bitch 9 years
It's such a great show. I got into it late as well. I actually watched the first three seasons over Thanksgiving weekend and watched the fourth the week it came out on DVD. This past year must've been so frustrating for people who have watched it all along. Such a long wait! I think it tends to get ignored because there's no clear star of the show, no big "will they? won't they?" romance, and the storylines are not so easily predicted. I think it's mostly the lack of a major starring role.
Fab_Kitty Fab_Kitty 9 years
Ooooh, I get so excited when that preview comes on HBO! Thanks for providing another opp. to see it, Buzz. Count me in with the ladies and gents who'll be tuning in tomorrow. I'm especially interested to begin viewing Simon and co.'s take on the challenges and pitfalls newspapers face in this age of increasing infotainment & decreasing readership. It should be very telling. Also, Buzz, I'm so excited that you're going to begin the 4th season soon. Being the huge media dorks we are, my sis and I have had a few debates about which is the best season thus far. I say 4th, she says 2nd (which is my second fave season), so perhaps you'll really enjoy the 4th season, too. Scorpstar77, Omar is the character I find most interesting, too! He effectively demonstrates how nuanced the Wire can be because he's not a "good guy"; he's not a "villain". He's just a human being trying to survive - w/ a skewed moral code - in the midst of extreme urban poverty and the game. Love it!
Renees3 Renees3 9 years
WE love this show too! It's so real and has awesome acting. I'm excited to see hwo this season plays out!
WhatTheFrockBlog WhatTheFrockBlog 9 years
My boyfriend rented season 1 from Netflix a few months ago and I tried to watch it but just couldn't get into it no matter how hard I tried.
scorpstar77 scorpstar77 9 years
I have been saying for over 3 years that it is the best show ever created. We named our dog McNulty in honor of the show, and we are SO FREAKIN' EXCITED to watch the first new ep tomorrow. It does irritate me that everyone and their mother praises CSI and Law & Order to heaven and back, but you tell them about The Wire (and how incredibly much better it is than any other crime drama show) and they just shrug. And that's not just sour grapes from me - I love a good crime drama, and can watch Law & Order marathons for days, but The Wire is just a much, much better show. Omar is my favorite :)
pinkflats pinkflats 9 years
i don't have HBO but i have seen clips online and read a lot about it from the reviews and features and i really wish i DID have HBO. i, too, don't understand why the show is being ignored during award seasons. it just amazes me. however, i think i will have to purchase the DVDs. i really hate when brilliant shows get cancelled so early or undeservedly, while crappy TV shows keep on going.
Linda-McP Linda-McP 9 years
For sure, I will be watching with you, Buzz. I, too, came to The Wire very late and have been watching feverishly to get caught up. I'm nearly done with Season Four, which is absolutely fantastic; the focus on inner-city schools and the frustrations faced by teachers and students alike is so accurate. Bleak as they may be, these stories need to be told and need to be heard by citizens every where. The show is brilliantly complex, compelling and addictive. The Wire is deserving of being named the best show on television. Perhaps viewers who are fed up with re-runs and reality shows which are airing during the writers' strike will be compelled to give the show a chance.
Francesca-Fiore Francesca-Fiore 9 years
I completely agree- this show is fantastic. Even the bad guys are incredibly charismatic, interesting, and usually sympathetic, at least to some degree. (For example Omar, or Stringer Bell.) It can be really brutal though. I have definitely teared up more than once.
tlsgirl tlsgirl 9 years
This is such a great show! I can't understand why it's not more popular.
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