Me? I like a good phenomenon. There's a famous place for breakfast in San Francisco where you have to wait for a minimum of an hour and a half on the streets of the TENDERLOIN just to get in. And you know what I said when I heard that? Where do I sign up? (Dottie's True Blue Cafe, by the way).
I just need to know what all the fuss is about and I'm not afraid of sitting through virtually anything to find out. Call me the cat. And that's how I came to watch my first episode of The Wire.
Many people are calling The Wire the best show that ever aired on television. In fact, it was Slate that said that and I love Slate so really WHAT COULD I DO? Plus, it's set in Baltimore and if you've ever read my bio carefully (and really, why would you?) it mentions that I got my MA in Creative Writing at Johns Hopkins...which is in Baltimore. I lived there nine shorts months and I have never fallen so hard for a city so fast. Bawl-more! May misses you!
And all I can say is...it really is the best show ever on television.
BUT WAIT before you put it in your queue, let's sit down right here for a moment and have us a little chat. I am not offended by bad language when used to make a point. The Wire is about the social structure of the city of Baltimore crumbling to the ground. Thus it focuses on drug dealers, cops, dock workers, newspapermen, politicians, and the homeless quite a lot. If you put a quarter in a jar every time a curse word is said on this show, you'll be Bill Gates.
There is also a lot of violence on the show. They don't go out of their way to show you torture scenes or anything but they are showing you life as it is really lived by the urban poor and well, in the language of the show, people get did. It's the game.
Now you're probably thinking, Why does May like this show? I could point to the writing, which is some of the best writing ever. The dialog on this show makes me want to break every pencil I have in half and toss my Mac iBook off the balcony. But that's not why I love it.
I love it because to me...the mission of the show is very holy. The urban poor, or really the poor in America, are nearly a forgotten group of people. I know I'm guilty of this myself. I love to send a chicken off to Ghana with Heifer International, but I forget that there are kids being raised in the slums of Baltimore by a brother who sells drugs to support them at the tender age of 12.
David Simon, the show's creator and primary writer, has said that he wants the show to be about the ways capitalism has devalued the individual. He sees his show as a love song to Baltimore and desperate plea to the world to change the ways that we classify the poor as "other" or "unnecessary."
I told a friend this week that I wanted to write a blog about how I see a lot of God in The Wire. She chuckled. But I was serious. Is there a holier pursuit that remembering the least of these?
PS The show isn't really all that dark, I promise. There are moments of side-clutching hilarity. Plus it has a somewhat biblical way of telling stories. No character is all good or all bad. They're like King David. Good intentions, some good results...some Bathsheba mistakes along the way.