Thoughts on the Wire

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I’ve never seen The Wire. It’s certainly not a show I’d pick for myself, but it was intriguing nonetheless. I was pleasantly surprised at the format of the show. It’s not just about the Major Crimes unit listening to the wiretaps and their investigations, which is what I expected from the name. Much of the show is dedicated to other characters, like the people of the street trying to make a living. There’s a rather large cast, and some groups are only related to each other in oblique ways, but all are interwoven into the life of the city.

 The calls of “pandemic” caught my ear. It was heard several times in the “street” scenes, seemingly coming out of nowhere, since none of the foreground characters said it. It’s evidently a drug, but it first reminded me of something else. Poverty in itself is a persistent pandemic. I remember when my Intro to Sociology class covered urban poverty, reading Elijah Anderson’s Code of the Street as an introduction to some reasons behind it and what maintains the vicious cycle. It was very informative. So I was quite amused at the researcher’s situation in the third episode. You’d think he would’ve taken some sociology classes. From what little I know (since I’ve only really read that one book on the topic), portrayal of the street life in this series seems very realistic.

 The segments I liked best were the ones with the kids. As the researcher guy should’ve known, indoctrination into street life starts early in the inner city. It’s self-preservation. Carcetti’s journey on his campaign was also quite interesting. I disliked him in the first episode – he seemed very abrasive. I had wondered why he was running for mayor if resents the whole process so much. But the following episodes showed me more of his character. He seems to really want to help the city, and is sick of all the stupid rules that keep him from doing that.

 All of those individual stories seem to be just cut up in segments and interspersed in the episode. I couldn’t tell when an episode would end. There was certainly an ongoing story, but it never takes on the traditional form of the set of acts that other shows use. The large cast also prevented me from catching everybody’s name, especially the police officers and those in the Wire unit. They don’t seem to show up as much, and the street-side stories were what caught my attention. The people are almost secondary – it’s their story, the situation, that’s the more interesting aspect of the show.

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