For each of the past four seasons of The Wire, show creator David Simon has continued to build on his characters and their stories that intertwine and affect Baltimore, Maryland. While much of the show includes Baltimore-specific items like slang and what=not, many of the ideas aren’t Baltimore-specific and are associated with other large metropolitan areas. The show revolves around Baltimore’s drug problem and how it affects everyone (from the cops to the politicians to the citizens and even to the drug dealers and corner boys themselves).
I met season five with slight hesitation because I couldn’t imagine how it could follow the amazing fourth season, which to an extent allowed the entire series to come full circle. This was mostly due to the concern that HBO would not renew the series. The show has always had low ratings despite its critical success.
The series was renewed, and its small loyal audience was allowed to see how the show’s characters would move on. Season five picks up a year after season four ended. The Major Crimes unit is still investigating Marlow Stanfield and his organization, and frustrated by not being able to bring them down. The fallout of the school’s budgeting problems is huge, hindering Mayor Thomas Carcetti’s Maryland governatory run and causing cutbacks in every city service including the police department. The show also offers a different perspective in each season, and this season emphasizes the media’s viewpoint as seen through the Baltimore Sun newspaper.
I don’t want to go into detail about season five’s plot because it’s too intricate. It involves too many characters, storylines, and ideas from earlier seasons. To truly enjoy season five requires viewing season one through four in order.
One large praise given to The Wire is its realism. It doesn’t gloss over the facts and doesn’t do any character any favors. Shit happens. It’s ever so true in The Wire.
If you asked a police officer which police division was the most stressing you’d probably get homicide and narcotics. David Simon’s earlier show Homicide: Life On The Street dealt with homicide detectives. The Wire builds on it, but also explores narcos and how they handle the drug culture firsthand. Other than friends, family, and perhaps social workers, no one sees the true effects that drugs have on a city.
Such despair and hopelessness don’t just affect drug users, but also the officers that day-in and day-out have to deal with the crime associated with it. They deal with a lot of crap, and the most popular medicine is alcohol.
But The Wire’s beauty is that it is also somewhat sympathetic to the criminals and the drug-dealers. They’re doing the best they can with the cards they have been dealt. There are only so few options one can turn to after government fails them and society shuns them that crime and drugs appear so attractive.
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