Pattern and Absurdity in The Wire

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Midway through 4×02 “Soft Eyes”, we see an interesting juxtaposition between the police station and the teachers’ lounge, where both groups are strategizing on how to deal with suspects/students. In any other show, the cutaways and direct parallels (including one member of each staff getting angry and goading the others into a shouting match; and of course, PowerPoint presentations) would be seen as cheeky; here, it establishes familiarity between the institutions and strengthens interest in each one’s goals.

Absurdity came through clearly in the visuals of the opening scenes of 4×03 “Home Rooms”: Omar goes through his morning routine in his boarded-up home with Renaldo. Sharply contrasted with their ramshackle living conditions are Omar’s blue silk pajamas, and his and Renaldo’s cranky sniping over the cereal. En route to get cereal, he inadvertently frightens the neighborhood’s residents into giving up their drugs. Some men bring home the bacon… Omar brings home pills and Cheerios (they were out of Honey Nut).

I still don’t have a full grasp on the show’s tone; in moments like these, I’m not sure if I should laugh because it’s playing against expectations, or because it’s moments of irony in these characters’ tough lives, and actually very normal.

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One Response to “Pattern and Absurdity in The Wire”

  1. Administrator Says:

    I think the show’s tone is worth discussing further … but my instinct is to laugh when I want to laugh and cry when I want to cry.

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