Not television

§ In the Life of "The Wire" by Lorrie Moore

Novelist Lorrie Moore writes in the NYRB about David Simon's show "The Wire".

In exposing the nerves, fallout, and sealed fates caused by a remorseless breed of capitalism and its writing-off of whole swathes of the populace, and by insisting on its universality as a subject, The Wire has much in common with great political drama everywhere; the plays of George Bernard Shaw (in which rich and poor are both given language) come to mind. The newly elected mayor of Reykjavik will not allow anyone in his political party unless they have watched all five seasons. The mayor of Newark is also a fan. So is Barack Obama, whose favorite character is the gay, drug dealer–robbing gunslinger Omar Little—a new hero in queer studies, one of the few characters in the show who honors “a code,” and the only one whose ongoing motivation is love for another person.

In the intricate network of The Wire the story lines derive from the worlds of street-corner drug dealers and big-time traffickers, the police of homicide and drug enforcement and “special crimes,” the in-office brass, the dockworkers who knowingly and unknowingly unload the drug shipments, the union leaders, the foreign suppliers, the public schools, the newspaper, the mayor’s office, the city council, the lawyers and judges of the criminal justice system, the prisons, the soup kitchens, the rehab facilities, and the group homes with their revolving doors. This is the metaphorical “wire” that connects all the various institutions and habitats of the city. It also refers to the high-wire act of brave policing and honest work—difficult and rare.

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