'The Wire': A question for its longtime devotees

1530__clarke_peters_lLet me preface the following by saying: The Wire is the best show on television. It’s a character study of an entire American city (and all American cities), populated by a vast constellation of characters who are themselves small cities of infinite complexity and depth.

That said, I have a question for Wire fans out there: Do you detect a subtle change in the texture and tone of the show? A willingness to lay things out a little more explicitly? A bit more exposition coming out of Lester Freamon (Clarke Peters, pictured)? A tad less subtlety in the street politics of West Baltimore? Are the creators, in other words, spoon-feeding us a bit?

Don’t get me wrong: The Wire is still nicely tangled, as messy as the society it depicts. But there seems to be an effort afoot to lay things out five-by-five. Have you noticed? Are you bothered? Could you not care less, especially now that Omar’s declared war on Marlo?*

Just thinking out loud. Please don’t quicklime me into a row house or anything.

*"I think these four fives beat a flush." Lines like that heal all wounds.

addCredit(“The Wire: Paul Schiraldi”)


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  • Kat

    Gah! I can’t take it anymore! EW, we get it, you think The Wire is like, OMG, the most awesomest television show to like, EVER, be created, ever EVER in the whole wide world!! You have been forcing that opinion on us for a long time now and I wish you would JUST SHUT UP ABOUT IT!

  • Derrick

    I can see where you are coming from. From all of the rumors, they need to hit some ratings marks to keep the show alive for another season, so personally, I’ll cut them some slack. Even at a slightly watered down level, this is the Godfather to other shows “The Whole Nine Yards”. But watch the criticism, I wouldn’t want to tell Omar about you.

  • Lora

    Except it IS the best thing ever.
    I think your theory is interesting, Scott. I, honestly, haven’t noticed a change, but maybe I’m too caught up in all the other “newness” to really notice.

  • travis J

    i’m going to have to disagree with you. i seem to recall several times in the past Lester has been used to lay things out, and i can think of at least one example from the first season that was way more obvious than anything i’ve seen this season.
    but then again, this season almost feels like a reboot, so perhaps you are right. i tell my stupid friends who don’t watch the wire that they got to start from the very beginning or with this season.
    i’m just stoked they got season five coming our way. i will be absolutely depressed when this show ends.

  • travis J

    also, i wrote the word ‘season’ way too many times. apologies for my ugly writing

  • Jesse

    Kat i used to agree (another i’m sick of everyone yammering about is Veronica Mars) unlike VMars though i had never given the wire a shot, cuz i have this icky feeling for HBO, i despise the sopranos (maybe thats due more to my distaste for tacky iti americans but i digress) after watching all the current S4 eps, i was so wrong this really is a captivating show everything about it makes u disapear into baltimore for 59 minutes, all i can say is sorry to all those opinions ive disregarded over the years.

  • Will

    Kat,
    It’s pretty clear from your post that you don’t watch the show (or if you ever have, that it’s not your thing — which is fine, and a matter between you and…you). But if you check out other mainstream media outlets, you’ll find similar expressions of intense admiration for The Wire. Why? Because, ever so rarely, a program comes along that compels jaded critics and jaded TV watchers to pay close attention to its artistry; challenges them to think and feel; prompts them to wonder about the very real social issues and injustices it represents in a fictionalized form.
    You don’t have to listen to the praise, or watch the show, or even click on the links to the EW Wire stories. But rather than issuing petulant complaints about the coverage, or using a magazine’s own web page to tell its writers to “shut up,” maybe you should spend an hour seeing what all the fuss is about. The Wire is a gem, unlike any other show on TV and one of the best in the history of the medium. It’s worth the attention, and undeserving of the whining.

  • SJ

    I was confused when I watched The Wire for the first time, but by the end of season one I was completely absorbed into the whole world, and I have noticed little to no change in the tone of season 4.
    And btw Kat, it’s just a question which was posed to “longtime devotees”, which quite clearly you are not. Nobody complains when everybody posts about Desperate Housewives and Lost, two shows which pale in comparison to ‘The Wire’ (give it a try…at least a season).

  • glimmertwins

    Watered down, you must be kidding? I still can’t understand a quarter of what anyone is saying. And who says lucidity is bad for a show. Last season was so slow, so opaque, so oblique I almost gave up on it. This season is even better than Season 2 on the docks. The kids are alright!

  • Ron

    A sad and depressing show if ever I saw one. Great black actors playing cliche ghetto roles. That’s messed up!

  • Chuck

    Advice all around:
    Kat- Whenever you see a story about the Wire, DON’T READ IT. Skip to the news about Gilmore Girls or some other show. If the Wire’s not for you, it’s not for you. Don’t run us down for liking it.
    Ron- First of all, have you even watched the show? “Cliche ghetto roles?” Look beneath the surface. The depth of writing of these Black characters has far surpassed anything I’ve seen on TV before. Who’s a cliche? Bubs, the enterprising, compassionate junkie? Lester, the methodical, ethical detective? Bodie, the independent dealer caught between the wheels of street commerce? Though the show could be seen as sad and depressing, that is because so much of it rings true.
    Scott- Calm down. I expect that HBO has demanded some concessions from the show to stay on the air, and more exposition must be one of them. It hasn’t hit me as too jarring yet. Better a slightly more simplistic Wire than none at all.

  • Ron Mwangaguhunga

    Like Monk, The Wire uses writiers who are new to television. The old gurad of TV writers — no offense — can seem stale. Both Wire and Monk, which use newbies, rock.
    But the Inspector Linley Mysteries is a better written and photographed show.

  • Wire Fan 4 Life

    Please do us all a favor and give the cast of the Wire the next cover of EW. If I see one more cover of Desperate Housewives or Lost I am going to get lost on a deserted island.

  • Dave

    When was the last time EW put The Wire on the cover or devoted entire sections of the magazine or website to a guide to the show? EW isn’t overexposing The Wire or beating us over the head with it. They’re doing the show a service, since it gets such paltry ratings and little mention in the entertainment media compared to other more popular shows. The show is amazing, and I’m glad EW is doing its job by highlighting one of the most visceral and literary takes on American society that television has to offer. Keep up your support, EW, the fans of The Wire appreciate it!

  • blackpower

    To KAT, if you hate the show so much why are you on this post. Get outta here!!!!!!!!

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