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What the Wire Showed Us About Baltimore

With more gripping TV than ever before at our fingertips it’s easy to overlook the greats that have come and gone, the Wire being one of them.

This HBO series began in 2002 and lasted 5 seasons, and although it was a great launching pad for several careers what made this show so important was the way that it reflected the genuine culture of Baltimore, Maryland. With a dual perspective that worked impeccably well here viewers got to see the way that the cops would have to apply themselves in order to catch the bad guys, while the criminals on the street had their own methods for staying alive and out of jail. This all too real version of events had great writing and more than that deep research as director David Simon, attended school in Maryland and went on to write for the Baltimore Sun newspaper (later featured in the series). Showing audiences both sides of the coin was a clever move, and yet simply revealing an accurate depiction of life in Baltimore was equally if not more impacting. For those who had never seen life on the streets in a city like this before, there were many things that were revealing on screen and many unnervingly realistic, here are just some of them.

Drugs Are Everywhere

The main premise of the Wire is that detectives are trying to stop the city’s drug dealers. Though they have a name and can identify the leaders, there is little that can do alone, thus they must form a case against them. The elaborate nature of their investigation shows how drugs are the lifeblood of crime here. From lifelong addicts to just how many young kids are involved in the production line, the thriving drug trade is not sugar coated here.

It’s Dog Eat Dog

Though many people think that drug dealers only have the police to worry about, the Wire sought to show how those on the streets have to watch their back constantly. From rivals to unadulterated mad men (such as the murderous yet fan favourite Omar) life in crime is far from easy. The show helped provide a different view to those trapped in the drug game and how getting out usually only comes in one form.

It’s Dog Eat Dog

Politicians Aren’t Helping

Also given some time in the spotlight is the Mayor’s office and all the subtle maneuvers that go on here. Though it takes some liberties in some episodes (like the concept of Hamsterdam, a police free area), the political side of the show looks at how the good intentions of a few barely make a scratch on real lives in the streets. It also showed the corruption within office, proven by real life Senator Nathaniel Oaks resigning after taking bribes and committing fraud.

The Poverty Is Immeasurable

The wire doesn’t have the shiny glittery look that other shows do. The grime and grit that marks every street corner and the battered high rise apartments that the folk here call home are shown just as they are. Its clear that the opportunities for young black men are almost invisible in Baltimore, the criminal world is the only world that makes sense to those who have lived in and around it their entire lives. The Wire made us look hard at this part of society, yet unfortunately the progress has been far from exemplary.



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