This amazing HBO series ran from 2002 – 2008, spawning five jaw-dropping, highly-addictive, watch-on-the-edge-of-your-seat series.
I personally went from someone who struggled to get through the first five minutes – never-mind the first episode – to becoming a fully-fledged slave to my box-set.
You know you’re onto a good thing when daylight merges into night and you’re none the wiser. Snuggled up within the safe cocoon of your duvet in a darkened room (the light switch is too far a journey) any disturbances bar eating and drinking are Not Welcome.
I even chose my final year uni subjects based on a certain module because it studied The Wire. I rightfully predicted my rather specific (and possibly otherwise quite useless) knowledge could be utilised to full extent here, for maximum gain.
It is often said that people find it hard to ‘get into’ The Wire. Many even find the first couple of episodes a struggle. To those people I say – power through. It is just so, so worth it.
After being sat down in front of the opening episode no less than five times, I constantly shut off after the first 10 minutes. Bored out of my mind, it was hard to follow and I didn’t have a clue what was going on.
Then one day, it just happened… I was suddenly hooked. By letting the show find its pace and patiently waiting until you begin to understand the different dynamics to the show, it will suddenly make sense.
However, you will probably turn your back on all your favourite trashy TV. So be warned, after watching The Wire… you’ll never take The Kardashians seriously again. So it’s probably a bonus all round I suppose.
With the full show available on Sky Box Sets right now, here’s my top list of why you should tune in to The Wire as soon an possible, even if you’ve failed in your previous attempts!
Here’s 6 reasons why you need to watch The Wire…
1. Omar Little
The rogue, confident, boldly and openly homosexual stick-up man in the tough world of gangsters and drug-dealers is understandably Barack Obama’s ‘favourite character in his favourite show’.
Michael K Williams, the genius actor behind the infamous character, was only scheduled to appear in seven episodes. But the shows creators, David Simon and Ed Burns approached him after watching his performance and wanted to expand the role.
Omar’s trademark scar is genuine too. On the night of his 25th birthday he got involved in a bar brawl in which he was slashed across the face with a razor, leaving him with that distinctive scar.
Omar’s ethical code is endearing if often eccentric – and he never swears or loses his temper. Sometimes, aside from all the authentic touches, Omar just does weird stuff. Like when he saunters to the cornershop in his silk pyjamas to buy Honey Nut Cheerios. Or the way he whistles that spooky tune everywhere he goes. His best quote ever HAS to be “You come after the King… You best not miss!” Fantastic.
2. Stringer Bell vs Avon Barksdale
The relationship between these two big-players is simply fascinating. When we meet them, we immediately get a sense of their roles. Stringer is the ‘business-sense’ behind the operations, whilst kingpin Avon is actually all about family loyalty. The ensuing power struggle and cloak-and-dagger actions is gripping instantly from season 1, but they also hold a pretty touching friendship amongst the back-drop of extreme crime and violence.
3. The Chess Symbolism
The powerful symbolism displayed in Season 1 Episode 3 is such a fantastic metaphor for both what is happening and what is destined to come. The chess lesson from “The Buys” has become one of The Wire’s most iconic scenes.
This brilliantly-scripted and -acted scene actually serves as a double metaphor. D’Angelo uses the familiar world of the drug hierarchy to explain an alien and complex game to Bodie and Wallace.
At the same time, Simon and Burns use this scene to explain the (presumably) alien drug game to their audience using the (presumably) familiar rules of chess. Call it a meta-metaphor.
4. The School Season
The fourth season of the TV series introduces Baltimore’s school system and several middle school students while continuing to examine the remnants of the Barksdale Organization, the ascendant Stanfield Organization, the Baltimore Police Department and politicians.
But it is the group of innocent children and their teacher that pulls on the emotional heart-strings in this season, particularly as we start with them as children, and travel with each to their individual fates towards the end of the show…with some heart-breaking endings.
Howard “Bunny” Colvin wondered if there was a way for drugs to be made safe for low-level users to take them without facing punishment; comparing the city’s drug problems to the illegal public consumption of alcohol, which was circumvented when people began keeping their beer in a paper bag. By independently setting up three “free zones” in his district where addicts and dealers were allowed to conduct their business under supervision but without interference this would move the drug trade into a controlled, uninhabited area to protect the rest of his district.
One of these areas became known as “Hamsterdam”, after Amsterdam’s liberal drug laws. Legalizing drugs in Hamsterdam allowed him to reassign police resources to solving quality felony cases elsewhere. After implementing the Hamsterdam plan for five weeks, Colvin delivered a cumulative 14% reduction in the felony rate, unheard of in the Western district’s history.
6. The Theme Tune
It changes every season, and all of them are fantastic. But I’ll never forget the resounding echo of Season 1.