Posted on October 30, 2008
The Wire writer on The Colbert Report
The Wire is a five-season series that ran on HBO. Not being an HBO subscriber, I am watching the series for the first time now, via Netflix DVD rentals — and I really LOVE it (not surprising). I started with Season 1 in September and am now close to the end of Season 4. It’s a great story and very well told.
Simon, the writer-producer of the series, was a cops reporter at The Sun (the surviving daily in Baltimore, Maryland) until he took a buyout — way back in 1995. (Sheesh, I didn’t even know they had buyouts that early. Frigging Tribune Co.!) This might account for why I have been thinking that the series is like the best journalism I have ever seen about America’s inner cities — except that it’s fiction.
If you followed us for sixty hours, and you find yourself caring about these issues more than you thought you would, then perhaps the next step is to engage and to demand, where possible, a more sophisticated and meaningful response from authority when it comes to such things as the drug war, educational reform or responsible political leadership. The Wire is about the America we pay for and tolerate. Perhaps it is possible to pay for, and demand, something more. (David Simon, in a letter to fans of The Wire)
Thanks to Ron Sylvester for the tip (via Twitter)!
Note to international readers: I consider this series to be very realistic, based on the years during the 1990s when I lived in Washington, D.C., where the situation was similar to the one portrayed in Baltimore in The Wire. Other American crime shows (such as the many “CSI” and “Law & Order” varieties) do not tell a complex, multi-dimensional story the way The Wire does. It’s a very ugly story, but it is our story, here in many of our cities. The fourth season is all about our inner-city schools — I think most people who have been in those schools would agree with me when I call that season “journalism.” (When you go to Washington and tour the monuments and museums, you don’t see anything like The Wire — and when you go to Baltimore and tour the Inner Harbor, you also don’t see any of that. But it’s there, all right. Just not where the tourists are.)