My favorite television show is The Wire. I did a stint as a cop reporter in Little Rock more than 20 years ago, when the city had one of the nation’s highest per-capita murder rates and crack cocaine had just started making itself known, and I recognize all of the TV show’s characters — cop and criminal — from my days of covering police and courts.
The show’s fourth season just wrapped up, and it mostly showed how inner-city boys become criminals. I particularly admired its depiction of the hopelessness of these boys’ lives. In the end, only one boy beats the hand that is dealt him, and there is plenty of reason to believe that his victory is only temporary.
In the last episode, there’s also an easy-to-miss little appearance by Steve Earle, as the Narcotics Anonymous buddy of Bubbles the junkie. The Wire does stuff like that all of the time — Earle is an ex-junkie who did time, and other bit-part actors in the show have similar little-known ties (for example, the preacher who shows up now and again served decades in Maryland prisons).
There are so many subplots to The Wire that I won’t even bother trying to explain a few of them — in fact, there are too many subplots and a lot of good actors suffer as a result. But for my money, this is the best drama on television these days. A lot of coddled people won’t get The Wire, and a lot of people who are used to white-hat cops and black-hat criminals won’t like it, but it is a show that pays off richly if you’re willing to invest a little time in it.
P.S. — ‘The Game?’ If you watch the show, you understand the reference.