I’m re-watching The Wire after 8 years, and I’m 5 episodes in. I just can’t believe how good it is. The characters are so complex, the story line is so intricate, and the acting is so good. How did they find so many charismatic actors when so many TV shows have one at best? Jimmy just sucks you in with his irrepressible, impish smile, even when he’s being an ass. His chemistry with Bunk is palpable. Bodie’s combo of wariness and bravado makes you root for him. I love that by making Kima a lesbian they take her off the table as a sexual object and make her a police first and foremost, just like every one else on the squad. Omar is just mesmerizing. I think I’m even more blown away by the actors now that I’ve seen a few of them in other projects. I find myself listening carefully to Jimmy and Stringer’s American accents, and I’ve caught Jimmy out a couple of times, but the Baltimore accent is so weird that it works.

The Wire was the TV show that brought me back into the fold after a 6+ year hiatus from television in the early 2000s. And what hooked me was it’s realism. I have little patience for things that feel too scripted or pat. All I see is someone reading lines, and I can’t get immersed in the story. The Wire relies on none of the usual cinematic tropes (score, flashbacks, camera work) to create drama— it’s all about the interpersonal relationships. There is no cheesy, unrealistic dialogue used for exposition or to advance the story line. Each scene both gives you a bit more of these fascinating characters and plays into multiple story arcs along different time scales. No one is a hero or a villain. And it is so funny.

I wondered if the show would be re-watchable since I know the major plot points. But actually, there are so many details I had forgotten, and really, it is the details that make this show. I laughed out loud in the first episode when Jimmy said that the only place he didn’t want to go was the marine division. Now that I know the major twists and turns I can pick up so much more of the police minutia, and the lingo of the hoppers, and how the detectives pieced the investigation together. It’s cerebral, and requires a bit of an investment, but I love that.

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Tell me more about how great The Wire is. Or tell me why you didn’t like it so I can defend it to the death.