The Wire: Season 1
Created by: David Simon
Written by: David Simon, Ed Burns
Starring: Dominic West, John Doman, Deirdre Lovejoy, Wendell Pierce, Lance Reddick, Sonja Sohn, Seth Gilliam, Domenick Lombardozzi, Clarke Peters, Andre Royo, Michael Kenneth Williams, Jim True-Frost, Frankie Faison, Wood Harris, Idris Elba
Reviewed by: Brad Williamson
The Wire starts off as all ordinary cop shows do, but make no mistake: this is no ordinary show. On the surface, there is nothing special here. There are no amazing special effects, no unexpected twists, and, in many ways, it’s HBO’s least controversial production. The sex is kept to a minimum, the violence is rarely graphic, and even the drug use isn’t depicted in much detail. You might think, then why is the show so beloved?
It’s the subtlety.
The show focuses on Baltimore’s drug scene, but it’s more about Baltimore than the drugs. And it’s more about the people involved than the city. It’s not good versus bad, either, because so many of the “good” guys are questionable and the “bad” guys have reasons. It’s about life, and about how life isn’t black-and-white as we’d like to think it is. It forces you to question preconceived notions of good and bad, right and wrong, fair and unfair, and it does so in a down-to-earth manner made more powerful by its lifelike depictions and stories.
Not to mention the acting is phenomenal. Lance Reddick steals the show, and so does Clarke Peters, and this theme continues as nearly every character impresses at one point or another. Pick a character and whether you love them, hate them, or don’t remember exactly who they are, they’ll blow you away with their next appearance.
But great acting is nothing without a quality script. Have no fear, for the writing is brilliant. It is sometimes funny, sometimes serious, sometimes thoughtful, but above all it’s real. Watching the Wire is to forget you’re watching television.
It’s difficult to pinpoint the origin of The Wire’s greatness, but it sucks you in, hypnotizes you, and convinces you it’s amazing, so there’s no need to over analyze it. Just watch it–that’s all you need to do.