The Wire, Naturalism at its finest


When I think of naturalism, I think of simplicity. When I think of The Wire,  I think of anything but the latter.  The Wire represents the growing number of fast paced, fast cut programs infiltrating the television and cinema. The cutting mentality?   Never hold on an actor’s face for too long and never hold a scene for too long.  The jarring cuts coincide with the jarring feeling that resides in us as viewers, always lost and continuing to watch season to season to satisfy that need to figure out what is going on.  

I never liked the Wire. I began watching it when I lived in Bedstuy because my housemates insisted me it was “cool” as life around us vaguely resembled life inside The Wire. I was always fascinated, however, by the way it hooked people, myself included. I hated it, but I had a strange desire to consistently tune in and see what happens.  As much as the quick cuts from one thing to another, never lingering on a subject or character, irked me, they are what kept me watching.  I couldn’t see a complete conversation or train of thought and therefore needed to keep watching to feel satisfied, to have some feeling of closure, closure that doesn’t even come at the end of a season. 

Though The Wire is not for me, I think the writers and directors of The Wire have mastered the art of live and the art of movement and the notion that life keeps on moving. There is no closure or sense of completion and so we keep on watching, waiting for some sort of ending receiving some pay-offs along the way, but never the complete ending we hope for (much as we hope for in life).

I was a HUGE fan of the Corner, watching the miniseries 3 times.  Examining the differences between the Wire and the Corner, I find that the Corner focuses much more on character. I felt closer to the characters of the Corner than the characters on the Wire. As a Wire viewer, I felt like I was just that, a viewer.  With the Corner, I felt like they were my friends. I was rooting for them to get off drugs and stop selling and I wanted them to succeed.  I feel more out of control with The Wire,  I feel disconnected perhaps because of writing and character development or perhaps because of the cutting mentality.  

It’s interesting to me to see the two very different takes based on the experiences of one man and the same sort of lifestyle.  If anyone hasn’t seen the Corner, I highly recommend it! Maybe you won’t like it, but just give it a look. It could be fun to compare.


2 Responses to “The Wire, Naturalism at its finest”

  1. Administrator Says:

    Interesting, but I don’t think of The Wire as a show that cuts “fast”–the credits are cut fast, but beyond that the show’s editing is almost laconic. What I’d say, maybe, is that the scenes are too short and sometimes cut off more abruptly than we think they should. But somehow the effect of that is to drag me more deeply into the work of making sense of the plot.

  2. Allison Says:

    I do think the way it’s cut does have something to do with it. The editing is very important to keep consistent with the tone of the show.

    I think the Wire is most certainly one of the many shows and films surrendering to the current trend of “fast cuts.” That is not to say that these cuts are not written in the script. I just feel like the Wire uses this to get straight to the point, never taking too much time to let a scene develop, but leaves them short to develop throughout the season. (Not a negative thing, just something I noticed…)

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