Review of The Wire (2002)

Moving picture, 58 hours

Baltimore cops deal with a major drug- and murder-related investigation per season. The cases connect, to each other and the city.

Essentially a cop drama, but the genre is bent backwards. Not only the opposing criminal elements, but large sections of the surrounding society are given both narrative weight and a healthy analysis in this broad and brilliant sweep of post-9/11 urban US society.

Shockingly realistic next to any British Morse or American CSI, The Wire deconstructed the political bias of traditional cop dramas descending from Dragnet (1951), which was scripted subject to police approval. Though it has the mainstream complaisance to follow intriguing characters, The Wire also has the courage not to bring them together all the time. Some details are silly: much of the nudity is TV’d up, and neither Omar nor Brother Mouzone really make sense.

References here: Knights of the South Bronx (2005), Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017), Wyatt Cenac’s Problem Areas (2018).

moving picture fiction series