At the behest of so many of my friends, I have finally completed the first season of The Wire. My friends are certainly right to encourage me to watch the show, knowing my deep, deep, abiding love for all forms of detective fiction. My friend O., a hard-core evangelist for the TV shows he loves, had allegedly made me watch the first 3 episodes of Season One a long time ago. I had disliked them almost immediately, thinking the show had in no way earned the beginning of the pilot. Why should I care so much about this British cop getting drunk all night and wrecking his car in the first ten minutes?
Oh yeah, because that is not even the pilot. That is some episode in the middle of the second season. The actual pilot actually bothers to introduce the characters in an expository-type fashion, the way that actual stories should do. So I liked it a darn sight better when I actually saw it.
One thing I kept wondering about, though, was when they were ever going to explain why Baltimore PD had hired some guy from out of the country for their homicide division, or if they were going to tell us some sad story about Young Timmy McNulty being sent off to a British boarding school as a kid, or something — anything. They do not explain this because dude is evidently supposed to be American. Can they get him in touch with Hugh Laurie’s dialect coach?
At any rate, disregarding the accent problems, I do not much care for McNulty. He has some interesting ideas as a cop and as an investigator, but as a person he is sub-par at best. He is shitty to everyone around him and somehow, inexplicably, never gets his comeuppance. I am waiting for that day. Surely he must finally get his comeuppance, right? Right?
In a show populated mainly by cops and criminals, there are a whole lot of dudes. A dude I like much better is Lester Freamon. I tried to find a picture of him wearing his reading glasses but could not. This picture must actually be from a later season judging by the grey in his beard. Anyway, I like him because he does not seem to be a generally shitty person, and he sort of exudes coolness, what with the aforementioned reading glasses and the tiny dollhouse miniature furniture he is always building at his desk. No one can say this is not cool. (However! He also sounds vaguely British. WTF?)
On the other side of the equation, we have the criminals. In the first season, it’s a bunch of drug dealers working at the housing projects. Below you can see depicted some dude, some other dude, D’Angelo, and Wallace. I did not learn everyone’s name, OK?
Some viewers of The Wire think these characters are interesting, but I don’t have terribly much to say about them. There they are, see: the criminals, the counterparts to the cops, the enemies — except not. I suppose they are meant to be sympathetic, so as to create a complex emotional response in the viewer. Does this work? Maybe.
A far more interesting character is Omar, below. As you can sense from this picture, dude is a hard-core badass.
He’s all, “I have a wicked scar on my face and I am wearing a satin robe on the streets of Baltimore! Step off, bitches!” (I have no idea what season this picture is from, or why the bathrobe, but one must admit it is badass.) Anyway, Omar is, as mentioned, a total badass, but he is also a sensitive gay dude who has feelings. Feelings of badassedness and violent revenge!
There are approximately three women on the show: one is a cop and a lesbian (because I guess being a cop is too tough for straight women who might worry about breaking a nail?) and the other two are there mainly to be fucked by the male characters. Pardon my crudeness, but that seems to be the way the show works. Isn’t that nice?
I think The Wire is essentially a good show, and I will continue to netflix it. I have Season Two on its way to me right now. I do feel that it might be a bit too heavy handed with the whole “making” a “significant” “statement” “about America” nonsense. I do not like shows to tell me about the state of the union, you know? That is why I typically avoid Aaron Sorkin like the plague.
My other problem with the show is that the episodes are about fifteen minutes too long. I realize this is because I am conditioned to the 43-minute shows of regular network TV, but seriously. I wouldn’t feel like this if the pacing were right. I didn’t feel this way about Deadwood. I don’t feel this way about feature-length films. I almost never use “too long” as a criticism of anything, but there you go. The episodes are too long.
To reiterate: essentially good, probably overrated, a whole lot of dudes.