Dear everyone, for fuck's sake, please stop telling me I should watch The Wire
Firstly, I want to thank you for acknowledging my deep appreciation for great television, and humoring me by having long conversations about the intricacies of television shows. You know pop culture means a lot to me, and you only want the best for me. You also are excited that you have found a show that you think I would enjoy. and want me to have some enjoyment while watching it. That is so kind of you. However, I have to put my foot down on one thing. Please, for fucks sake, stop telling me that The Wire is the greatest show ever made.
The first time I heard it, I was skeptical. It had just been canceled. Why now were people talking about it? If it was so good, and on HBO, why didn’t it have the rabid fandom (pun intended) of True Blood, or even The Sopranos? Then I kept hearing about it. From everyone. And not just in the “everyone loves this show” way in that everyone loves, say, Grey’s Anatomy. People I respect. People that own the complete dvd series of Six Feet Under. I try not to think of myself this way, but I am that douchey person who will automatically be repelled from something that becomes popular. (I have never read the Stieg Larson Girl with the Whatevers series, and don’t plan to).
But you kept persisting. Then one day, my trusted tv overnanalyzing buddy emerged from a bender on the series, malnourished and deprived from sunlight having watched the whole series back to back. This is a person I trust, someone who gets as excited over tv as I do. Not only did he sing its praises, but he then proclaimed words I’d never thought I’d hear” “It is the best show I have ever seen...even better than Battlestar Galactica.” WHOA. Hold the fuck up. Is it possible? BSG is the beacon to which all tv aspires. How dare someone claim anything different and usurp this divine show thrust down from the Heavens and paramount in character development, allegory, special effects, and compelling story.
So, dear friends, I tried. I logged into Netflix. Alas, the Wire was not on Netflix Instant Play. What, you mean, I’d have to have the disks SENT to me? Well, ok. I dragged Season 1 Disc 1 ahead of That Mitchell and Webb Look (for I am also an aficionado of the well-crafted, but lesser know in the States British comedies). Two days later, I popped it in.
Ok, so there’s cops. And some drug dealers. It’s in Baltimore. The police are very intense and have some quirky characters. D’Angelo Barksdale just got acquitted and hangs out at a strip club owned by his Uncle. Some people sell drugs and they have memorable nicknames. Dominic West is a loose cannon who is given one last shot. People are shady. The police department are full of assholes. Some things are unethical. All of these things may be interesting, but to someone other than me. The interesting parts get bogged down in procedure. The show is based on somebody “telling it like it is” to someone else, aka “being a rude asshole” and the recipient of said assholeness just takes it and uses it to learn a lesson.
I reported back, my dear compatriots, that I was not “wowed.” Give it time, you said. It really picks up. But, I retorted, if it is such an amazing series, shouldn’t the first episode really pull me in? Lest I remind you of the BASG miniseries, in which the first five minutes we witness the evolution of robots and the destruction of a space station that represents a 40-year armistice between humans and the machines they created? That’s what I call a “wow.”
I am not one to give up easily, I have a strong work ethic, both in my actual work and the hard work to be a patron of the (televised) arts. I returned the other two netflix disks and resumed.
Over several episodes, I learned more about the characters. Although, I did have a hard time remembering who was who. That’s completely understandable, you reassured me, it happens to everyone. Then we reassured each other that we were not racist, because we also couldn’t tell the police apart sometimes, and some of them were white. THus, I am also very thankful to the time and effort put into the The Wire List of characters Wikipedia page. Whoever wrote that, I offer my sincerest gratitude.
I watched several episodes surrounding the bureaucracy of obtaining permission to copy the beepers and wiretap a pay phone. Oh yes, bureaucracy is so thrilling! The paperwork! The false hope!. I started to learn people’s names. Omar was revealed to be gay. McNulty has issues with his role of fatherhood. The quiet cop who makes miniature furniture actually has a lot to say. Lance Reddick is an intense man. Kima is the only woman on the force and therefore has to be tough. Despite any attempt to do so otherwise, Wallace was destined to a life of drug-related crime. I felt a little closer to these characters. A beacon of hope appeared that I may have room in my heart to commit to a five-season series.
Then, more things like who was trying to rip off who. Drop-off points. Safe houses. Drive-bys. Basketball games. Men acting macho and aggressive. A who-dun-it shooting. Avon getting aranoid. Stringer intimidating eople. Look, I know that tv show is escapism (have I mentioned my favorite show is about humans and the robots they create that eventually turned against them?) and therefore I am likely to enjoy tv shows that give a new perspective or have types of people I would never hang out with. That is healthy.
The bottom line is: I don’t care about or relate to this world. I am not involved in drug deals or the police dealing with them. Sure, there are larger issues at stake, about sociology, class, and power struggles. However, this world also deals with a lot of men strutting around, swinging their dicks, trying to impress each other by cutting each other down, and cheating on their wives. Where are the women? “Well, Kima’s pretty awesome. And she’s a strong black lesbian.” Well, as if her blackness and lesbianess is suposed to count more than other characters.
The only other women I see is an easily manipulated waitress at Orlando’s, McNulty’s angry ex-wife, and Rhonda, who sends equal time doing her job and acting as McNult’s fuck buddy. Oh, and occasionally a nagging girlfriend or “baby mama.” Look, in the world of drug dealing, women are present and have a story to tell. Except that it seems creator David Simon doesn’t feel their stories are important.
Funny (or not funny) that those of you that keep telling me this is the second coming of TV’s Messiah are white. Now, I know you probably already had a gut reaction to get defensive, but really, what is that all about? Do we, as white people, look to The Wire to give us some sort of credibility? That we someone have some street cred by proxy? That we now know to yell “Five-oh!” every time we see a police car? Even when they are there to provide crowd control at the farmers market?
“Well, it gets better as the series goes on.” you tell me. “ In fact, not until Season 3. In fact, you can probably even skip Season 2 altogether.” WHAT? You are telling me that this orgasm of a show, supposedly the greatest thing ever, is not even good until the third season? Fucking forget it. So, I am asking you, the next time you tell me it’s the best show ever, please consider my thoughts, feelings, wants and dreams. And maybe what We-Bay would do in this situation, whatever gets you through it. And stop telling me to watch it. While you are at it, cool it with your chatter on Sons of Anarchy, because I could give even less shits about a motorcycle club in suburban NorCal.
The Last Day of Camp
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