Yesterday evening, I completed another milestone in TV history…Season 4 of The Wire. And this show is really nothing short of outstanding once you get into it. To be fair it requires some “warming up” but it is worth the patience.

Looking at Season 4 (and probably the entire show), the level of detail David Simon has put into the development of all the characters is just really amazing. It sometimes feels as realistic as a documentary (since the show doesn’t even try to “hollywood”-ize things by making the world a better place than it actually is). A good example is Namond Price who starts the season off as your typical wannabe gangster who wants to be as tough as his Old Man and for whom school is just “whatever” and “yo Mr P, wassup”. But as the season progresses, the show explains why Namond is behaving this way, that all his “toughness” is just a facade and underneath it all, there is just a little kid – who is vulnerable and who is really not aspiring to become a gangster like his Old Man. Following the entire pattern of this show and the socio-economic critique, it feels as if David Simon wants to tell us: “Hey, don’t judge these kids and don’t expect them to turn into anything else but gangsters.” They are basically born into it and only in exceptional circumstances can their destiny be turned into a different direction. Another great – or maybe even better – example is Michael who is a good kid at heart but has been going through so much trouble in his still young life that it ultimately can only lead in one direction

[toggle title=”SPOILER”] The Mayor is elected into office and full of hope and spirit to turn things around and change how business is done in Baltimore. [/toggle]

Looking at today’s political debate and America’s problem of fixing the education problem, The Wire could have not portrayed it better. Almost every politician is aspiring to turn things around but then the inevitable happens, he is elected into office and learns about the real mess his district, city, state or country is actually in. One notices that his predecessor has left him a fiscal mess and – in this case – our character learns that his schools are basically running on fumes. And then he has to make the tough decisions:”Where do I invest the already limited budget?” “What is more important – controlling crime or stabilizing education?” “Do I jeopardize my future aspirations to do actually do the right thing?” Carcetti has to take a hit on his aspirations to become Governor of Maryland by begging the incumbent for money and thus showing his weakness to control his own constituency…a really brilliant spin on real-world politics.

[toggle title=”SPOILER”] Looking at the show as whole, Season 3 is the segway into a new era (the one of Marlow – the new kingpin) and the messaging is pretty clear; it doesn’t really matter if you get the current bad guys of the street because the next one is ready to take their place any time. In Season 4, Marlow changes the rules of the game and shows no mercy by having every remote threat killed right away as a signal of strength, whereas Stringer and Barksdale were still running things by a certain code and always took care of family. [/toggle]

Looking at every individual season and the show as whole, it becomes evident that everything has been scripted out for these 5 seasons. All the characters get introduced very thoroughly in an early part of the show which makes it easier later on to just include them in the storyline – even as sidekicks. But due to the detail earlier on, the audience has already built up a relationship with the characters and that makes their problems, tensions and conflicts so much more credible.

In a final summary, The Wire does not have the pace of the Homelands or Dexters. And it doesn’t really aspire to be that show, it wants to tell a story and take the time to really bring the point across. And that it does in a way which no movie or TV shows has ever managed. The script is fantastic on both levels of storytelling and character development. And for the latter it is one thing to write a great script, but the cast deserves to be applauded, their execution is brilliant as well; how they grow (Carver), mature (McNulty), fall from grace and get up again (Daniels). Fantastic show and really worth to spend the time…

[toggle title=”Blogs about The Wire”]


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