Does 'The Wire' hold up?

The Wire’s pacing would not fly in this era, which is not a condemnation of the show, just a fact. It IS hard to get into. Each season, it’s hard to get a feel for what it’s going to do, and at least for me, each season I had a knee-jerk reaction to it’s upending of its own status quo, with which I had grown so comfortable. And yet, by the end of each season, I was terribly sad to see those arcs end, those units close up, those corners shut down, and those characters leave. It has an uncanny sense of place that most shows never even attempt to capture.

I watched it a year after it ended, and loved it deeply then. I watched it again with my partner two years ago, my politics more radical and more finely-developed, and only felt more passionately for it. Best of all? I came around on season 2, seeing it now as one of the series’ best seasons. A true sign of maturation (on my part) and timelessness (on the show’s), IMO


I’ve been re-watching it in fits and starts over the past few months, and I’m currently a few episodes into Season 3. It’s still largely a masterpiece. The themes that it works with, and the amazing character work is just not something you see in TV at all. It’s messy, uncomfortable, and unflinching in its depiction of the failings of the American drug war, and the lives around it. As someone previously said in this thread, so much of it is based off real life occurrences in Baltimore, and it shows. The characters and situations feel real, because they are reality.

It’s also a really slow burn. I think it’s necessary for it to take its time, and part of what makes it so great is that it lets each storyline and character breathe. But it’s been the big barrier to my partner getting into it. And after so many shows nowadays really just go for being violent, crass, and grim, just for the sake of being so, it’s been a hard sell to her that The Wire isn’t saying and showing what it does for just pure shock value, but because the the story and themes that it explores really can’t be explored without it (the no lines except ‘Fuck’ and ‘Motherfuck’ with McNulty and Bunk scene notwithstanding).


I love The Wire and think that it still does hold up today, though I say that as someone who didn’t watch the series for the first time until about 5 years ago. It did such a good job at humanizing so many characters. Bubbles in particular stands out to me, because he was a good person and seemed to want to get clean at points, but couldn’t get the addiction demon off his back and you see the continual loss and pain he goes through because of it. That really struck a chord with me.

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In my own mind, The Wire does hold up exceptionally well and I still think about it on a daily basis and I don’t think many other shows have risen to touch how it deals with such complicated but relevant themes in such an anti-televisual style. The Wire isn’t sentimental, and characters that are overly idealistic ultimately get grinded up by the system, it’s this idea that one person can’t hope to make a difference next to the deep seated systems government and order that have been in place for decades. I guess shows like Game of Thrones have done the same thing (at least in it’s earlier seasons) to popular acclaim, but as it winds up it’s getting a bit more formulaic and safer.

The only thing that comes close to The Wire is probably Treme, in which David Simon applied the same format to New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

I guess at the time, I always felt Season 5 was a little bit of a let down, but now… with the way that journalism is under attack and the ways in which gross lies are being flung about by the highest offices of the land.

Maybe it’s time for another rewatch…


Yes, it does hold up! Its critical acclaim is well deserved.

Been ages since I first watched it, but I can’t imagine The Wire really falling off that much. David Simon wrote the Baltimore he knew (and still knows) and examined so much of how communities interact. I feel like watching it again every so often because DAMN.

My first time watching, probably something like 4 years ago, I thought Season 2 was the weakest. Having just finished it in a rewatch…yeah, it’s up there with the best of them. It just works on so many different levels.

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I must say that watching Bosch has really given me a lot of appreciation for how well Lance Reddick plays characters.

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Just found this obituary of Possum, the inspiration for the character Bubbles, and it’s a great read:

This part is wild:

No violence, Possum tells the reporter, saving his darkest secret for the end of the interview. “No violence, but I killed two people once.” He recalls a stickup artist in the projects who kept taking dope from him when Possum was trying to sell a little on the side.

“Every week he robbed me,” he says. “And every time, he would take not only what I was selling, but the couple bags I kept in my pocket up here for myself.”

After three or four robberies, Possum replaced the heroin in his shirt pocket with battery acid: “It took a couple days, but he eventually fired it and got dead right then and there. Another someone died because they fired with him.”

Possum frowns. “I felt bad for that person, but hey, it’s all in the game.”