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  • The Wire, an American crime drama created by television writer and former journalist David Simon, premiered on the premium television network HBO on 2 June 2002. The critically lauded show lasted five seasons and sixty episodes, airing on the network until 2008. Before becoming a television writer, creator Simon worked as a police reporter for many years in Baltimore, Maryland. During this time, in 1991, he wrote the nonfiction book Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets, an unflinching journalistic work on what the city’s homicide police dealt with over the course of a year. The book and a follow-up, The Corner: A Year in the Life of an Inner-City Neighborhood, became the inspiration for the very successful NBC drama Homicide: Life on the Street (1993–1999). Simon, though he served as a writer and producer on the show, felt the NBC drama failed to properly capture its source material and did not portray the problems of the city as accurately as desired. He then set out, with co-creator and former police officer Ed Burns, to make the drama he first envisioned, and that is how The Wire came into existence. The plot of the show varied from season to season, with each of its five seasons focusing on a different public institution failing citizens. During the first season, writers made the conflict between Baltimore’s ever-growing drug trade and the city’s police force the central plot. The second season detailed Baltimore’s urban issues, particularly those involving poor, working-class dock workers. Next, for the third season, Simon and his writers shined a light on political corruption and how the government contributed to the dismay happening in the city. For the fourth season, the writers looked backward and began teasing out how Baltimore’s failing schools contributed to poverty and the aforementioned drug trade. Finally, for the final season, the drama examined how the eroding economic and cultural status of the city’s press contributed to a lack of a watchdog and allowed crime and corruption to flourish. The Wire is often credited as a significant early entrant into what critics have called the golden age of television. Furthermore, the drama became a regular focus of academic study, for its depictions of crime, race, politics, journalism, and more. Several universities have devoted undergraduate and graduate classes to the program. HBO released the show on DVD season by season. Late in 2008, a DVD box set including the entire run of the show became available. In 2015, HBO released a box set of the show on Blu-Ray. Its cult following inspired numerous programs that attempted to capture The Wire’s ambition, which is often described as a Charles Dickens-like sociological examination of a city. The critical success of The Wire allowed Simon to create more dramas for HBO, such as the critical hits Treme and The Deuce.

publication date

  • January 1, 2022

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Date in CU Experts

  • January 28, 2023 10:28 AM

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