The Wire: American TV at it's best

I saw the last episode of this amazing series just now. Creator David Simon wrote a touching letter about it, and I thought I'd say a few words, too.

There was always something about the HBO series "The Wire". It was often brutal, intense, profane, and violent. It always had an air of honesty, and of introspection, and more than a hint of authenticity. It was an enthralling, extended essay about urban reality at many levels: the personal, the political, the psychological, the social, and the economic. For one born and raised in relative quiet of affluent suburbia, The Wire was a peak into a world only a few miles away. A world you normally only see at the edges.

I always felt that The Wire used violence correctly in that it almost always made you feel sick, or sad. There was never a vicarious thrill to it; it was never portrayed as righteous, with the possible exception of some of Omar's scenes. Violence is unremittingly shown as senseless, evil, and pointless. The same could be said of political maneuvering: no time (or credibility) is wasted defending corruption. It is depicted as the almost reflexive instinct to survive. The view is left to make their own moral pronouncements, and I for one enjoy having my judgment respected.

If anything, The Wire makes the point strongly that "success" on the streets is ultra-violent and short-lived, and that "success" in society requires expert play of the game of manipulation, where a conscience is a sure way to lose. It is an extremely cynical thesis, and I for one truly hope that it's wrong, but I'm grateful for the all-too-believable glimpse into a pathology of American urban culture.

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