The New Yorker Profiles David Simon and The Wire

You still have some time to get caught up before the final season of The Wire starts in January.  When the series concludes I have no doubt it will be the finest piece of television as literature to ever air.

Looking for a quick summary of the series to get you interested:

“The Wire,” Simon often says, is a show about how contemporary American society—and, particularly, “raw, unencumbered capitalism”—devalues human beings. He told me, “Every single moment on the planet, from here on out, human beings are worth less. We are in a post-industrial age. We don’t need as many of us as we once did. So, if the first season was about devaluing the cops who knew their beats and the corner boys slinging drugs, then the second was about devaluing the longshoremen and their labor, the third about people who wanted to make changes in the city, and the fourth was about kids who were being prepared, badly, for an economy that no longer really needs them. And the fifth? It’s about the people who are supposed to be monitoring all this and sounding the alarm—the journalists. The newsroom I worked in had four hundred and fifty people. Now it’s got three hundred. Management says, ‘We have to do more with less.’ That’s the bullshit of bean counters who care only about the bottom line. You do less with less.”

Need more?  Here are some great quotes from the article that may help convince you:

The show’s departure from Hollywood formulas may be nowhere more palpable than in its routine use of nonactors to fill the minor roles. No other television drama, it seems safe to say, features an actor whom one of the show’s lead writers helped put in prison with a thirty-four-year sentence. That is Melvin Williams, a Baltimore drug kingpin whom Ed Burns nabbed in a wiretap investigation in 1984; Simon reported on the case for the Sun. Williams plays the part of the Deacon, a community leader both savvy and wise.

‘The Wire’ is dissent,” he says. “It is perhaps the only storytelling on television that overtly suggests that our political and economic and social constructs are no longer viable, that our leadership has failed us relentlessly, and that no, we are not going to be all right.” He also likes to say that “The Wire” is a story about the “decline of the American empire.”

Critics, meanwhile, have compared the show to a great Victorian novel. The Chicago Tribune, Salon, and the San Francisco Chronicle have called it the best show on television. Jacob Weisberg, writing in Slate, went even further, declaring that “The Wire” was the best American television series that had ever been broadcast: “No other program has ever done anything remotely like what this one does, namely to portray the social, political, and economic life of an American city with the scope, observational precision, and moral vision of great literature.” Sometimes the fan base of “The Wire” seems like the demographics of many American cities—mainly the urban poor and the affluent élite, with the middle class hollowed out.

Read the whole article here and if you’re still not convinced, just trust me.  It is like no other show or movie I’ve seen or even comparable to any book I’ve read in terms of the canvas it paints with a sweeping story arc, complex and flawed characters and a mix of hope and tragedy that weaves its way through every episode of every season to date.

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2 Responses to The New Yorker Profiles David Simon and The Wire

  1. andelman says:

    Avi,
    You might be interested in this audio interview with David Simon in which he talks about the past and future of “The Wire”: http://www.mrmedia.com/2007/02/fridays-with-mr-media-david-simonthe.html .

  2. avster says:

    Very cool. As another recommendation if you haven’t read the book Homicide is based on Homicide: A Life on the Killing Streets it’s definitely worth a read.

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