People just go on and on about what makes The Wire one of the best television shows ever, or the best crime story in any medium, or what have you. Realism is cited often, but I do not care that much about realism. What I love about The Wire is that at the beginning of every episode, there is this implied voice speaking to you, one that says “You are smart. This is going to be a complicated story, with a lot of characters, characters with names, and nicknames that are going to be hard to keep track of, characters that are not good guys or bad guys but just guys, so you do not know who to root for. But we know you are smart. So we are not going to provide you with absurd exposition every fifteen minutes – no one, at any point, is going to just going to summarize what the show is about to a character who already knows, just so we can be sure you are keeping up. Because that is stupid, and we are all working too hard on this story to waste time being redundant, and making ourselves clear to addle-minded viewers who just came back from the bathroom. You are smart. TV is NOT for stupid people, potentially.”
Plus characters change in a way that is more persuasive and satisfying than any show I have ever seen, and that is one of the main reasons we tell stories -- to watch people change. But that is maybe another post.
I have only just finished the first season of The Wire, but this is why I have decided that the WGA strike is good – because I have not seen every episode of The Wire, The Unit, 24, Battlestar Galactica, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Flight of the Concords, and Ugly Betty. And I have a Netflix account. Expect more in my series Vaguely Anachronistic Comments on Stuff from the Recent Past.