The Wire: way down in the hole


I just finished watching The Wire, and I’m depressed. The pain. Someone just shoot me. Right now.

I know that David Simon and Ed Burns (the writers) wanted to call attention to the grittier side of society, so the audience is suppose to squirm a bit. But this might be too much. Some of the individual story lines end well, but everyone who tries to fix the system loses. Every last one of them. It’s demoralizing to see the good guys repeatedly getting crushed and the bad guys (literally) getting away with murder. Like Bodie says in the series, “This game is rigged, yo.” Now, I know it’s a realistic portrayal, having worked in many of the depicted institutions. But maybe it’s too realistic. I’m suffering PTSD just from watching it.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not a hater. It’s an outstanding and gripping series, one of the best ones that I’ve ever seen. I just feel that Simon and Burns might be victims of their own success. They obviously want people to care and to ultimately fix the system. But after seeing the incredible dysfunction of the civil service, political, educational, and economic systems so vividly depicted, who in his right mind would even attempt to fix them? There is obviously no easy solution, and after watching five seasons of The Wire, apparently no hope either.

To writers everywhere, an earnest plea: throw us a bone. Please? Some of us want to help. Give us something to hope for, a reason to try. Some of us just watch for entertainment. We still must get up the morning after finishing your work and somehow make it through the day. Now I know as lord of your creation you can do whatever you damn well please with your characters, but consider the sanity of your audience too. I’m not asking for rainbows and milk chocolates. Dark chocolate is fine: bitter but not too bitter.

Comments welcome!