[T]he Wire premiered on HBO June 2nd, 2002 with an episode titled “The Target.” The scene begins with McNulty sitting with a witness to a murder that took place. McNulty asked the witness why they let someone they knew would rob them participate in their game of Craps. The witness responded “this America man.” This line fits as the backdrop to a realistic look at the social issues that plague, not only the city of Baltimore but the United States of America. David Simon provides us with his view of the drug trade, dock workers, inner city youth, and the Newspaper Industry in a gripping five seasons. The show is paced with detail. The series rhetoric manifest characters that drive the story. Simon allows the audience to assimilate to the world through his portrayal of original dialogue, memorable characters, and an illustration of social issues that are still relevant to today’s climate. The Wire is crafted like a chess match. The pawns represent the dealers in low rises ran by the King and his muscle. This seems to be a constant theme throughout and one of the many pieces that make The Wire an engaging piece of realism. It grabs and makes you part of “the game.” The game is represented by the American Dream, a dream which has a different meaning for each character.
Created by David Simon who initially wanted to create a police drama based on the experiences of his co-writer on the show and previous homicide detective, Ed Burns. Ed Burns experienced a lot of bureaucracy with the Baltimore Police Department which led Simon to create the police drama. What became of this idea was a masterful set piece on social issues that goes deeper than just the Baltimore Police Department. The show was produced by Blown Deadline Productions, who has also produced Simon’s other work like Treme, Show Me a Here, Generation Kill, and the upcoming series about the 70’s and 80’s porn industry, The Deuce. Prior to The Wire’s creation, Simon was a police reporter for The Baltimore Sun. His experiences as a reporter led him to become a novelist and create, what became the precursor to The Wire, The Corner.
Simon created a realistic visual for the audience thanks to Robert F. Colesberry. He was a Producer/Director who worked with Simon on The Corner. Their collaboration provides a vivid view of a city torn by the prevalent drug trade and high murder rate and by those governing the city itself. They provide viewers with different perspectives from the junkies all the way to the Mayor. When a new character is introduced in the series, the viewer gets to know them by their actions, choices, and ideology in what they define as the American Dream in this “rigged game” everybody must play to survive or reach their self-serving agenda. Simon allows viewers to formulate an opinion of the character before introducing them by name. At first glance, Simon’s depiction of social issues is futile due to a lack of direction on how to improve the issues that face the city of Baltimore. However, viewers come to realize that a latent function of the characters depicted in the show illustrates the vital people necessary to evoke change. He set out to show the dysfunction of the institutions that teach children, govern the cities, and how that dysfunction effects everyone in the middle.
Over 60 episodes and 5 seasons Simon captures each story with visual detail that sticks in the mind of the viewer. He introduces flawed characters, yet makes the viewer feel compassion, even when the viewer despises the character. Even if minimal compassion is felt for Marlo and Snoop, I doubt any viewer caught in the web of The Wire will ever forget them. The passion is felt in the dialogue of this series. There is a lot of esoteric language used by law enforcement and those involved in the drug trade that overtime becomes clear to the viewer. That is all thanks to Simon’s experience as a writer and passion for the corruption in those who govern society. He wanted to put together social commentary that told the truth, not sugar coated it. He wanted to speak on the topics that truly effect the world he lives in and not just tell the stories people are comfortable hearing.
The Wire opened a lot of opportunity for Michael K. Williams, who plays the iconic Omar Little. Omar’s character is based off 4 separate “stick-up men.” One of them named Donnie Andrews plays a small role in assisting Omar while he is in prison. Omar makes his living off robbing drug dealers and is known for his shotgun and facial scar. He is feared on the street and makes his presence known by whistling “The Farmer in The Dell.” He spends his Sundays bringing his grandmother to church. Omar follows a strict code, as one should in his line of work. He contradicts the norms of masculinity on the street due to the fact that his sexual orientation is not the same as those he steals from. He is the Robin Hood in The Wire. Omar represents a vigilante on the streets and serves as the anti-hero of the series. Despite his demeanor, Omar is a man who loves deep, as we see with his grandmother and boyfriends. He does not see the wrong in what he does because he gives back to those in need as a compensation for a corrupt political structure failing his city. He delivers each line with his raspy voice and sharp wit. He embodies each moment on screen with the ease that we see in some of today’s greatest screen actors. His confidence is unclouded, his lack of fear is terrifying, and his complexity is one of the most engaging things about The Wire.