The Wire is one of the most iconic shows to ever hit the television. When the show was still on air, it had developed a cult following. Now, after almost seven years, it is just as relevant today as it was then, if not more. The Wire originally aired on HBO for five seasons from 2002 to 2008. Baltimore is the background against which the show is set and it primarily focuses on the war of drugs from the perspective of the cops, and interestingly enough, the drug dealers too. This was quite a watch, since it made the viewers think before jumping to conclusions. There was no one good guy to support and one bad guy to thwart. Everyone was doing what seemed to them as ‘right’.
There were no special effects put into the show to make it more palatable. The show’s success is completely because of its story and how that helps the characters to develop over time. The characters were built in a way that the viewers would have to be invested in the show to see them evolve. The show was praised highly by the critics and rightfully so. The show was touted as being too real. The places and people showcased on the show closely resembled those the ground reality. Other than that, the attention to detail was impeccable. The bravest thing that the show did was pick up some of the most controversial and pressing issues of race, politics, crime, education and so on, which were as sensitive then as they are now. They did not shy away from it and the whole narrative is a thoughtful and thorough analysis of all these aspects.
The writers for the show were ex-officers of law enforcement and some reporters too. So, it had that air of realism about it. It was very relevant for its time. However, even while watching the series today, it is eerie how much relevance some of the characters and plots still hold.
One of the themes of the show was the corruption in the police and the political system that preceded the riots in the city. It was the public’s frustration that finally gave in. It is not difficult to recount the violence that broke out in West Baltimore on the funeral of Freddie Gray Jr. The death of the 25-year old African American man came into much media limelight, when it was learnt that the police officers arrested him for no probable reason and beat him to a pulp. Freddie Gray Jr. later succumbed to his injuries in the hospital. Numerous media debates followed this incident and the actors of The Wire were called upon to share their two bits on the situation. The incidents portrayed by the actors so many years ago on the show couldn’t have been more relevant than on this day. The Wire is certainly one of the best television shows, which gave an account of the complex circumstances that run behind such riots and uproars.
This is possibly the only show that considered police brutality as an ongoing problem. It is not a side track that makes a cameo in one of the episodes of the show. Given the ample screen time, the show was able to delve deeper into the issue and find out how the race affects the justice churned out for a person. The show also touched upon the reaction of politicians and religious leaders in the process, which was also very apparent in the actual Baltimore conspiracy.
These were the few aspects of the show that were relevant to the media at the time of the uproar and therefore, were much highlighted. However, the real plot of the show and also a very real problem of the city even today is its flourishing drug trade. It would not be wrong to say that the problem has actually worsened after the show went off air. Moreover, in all probability, drug trade is the progenitor of many other problems that the great city of Baltimore is still party to.
One of the problems wreaking havoc in the lives of the Baltimore people is the lack of opportunities. The fourth season of the show concentrated on the children in drug trade. The drug dealers in the area and the inherent violence makes it very difficult for any business to actually thrive. This lack of security leads to poor opportunities for the children and the youth. They are forced into being a part of the drug trade itself. Even with the revamped school system in the city now, this past makes it impossible hard for them to pursue a regular life anymore.
These kind of basic problems in the city are not generally a part of politicians’ agenda in Baltimore even today. The Wire also focused on the city politics and showcased the role of politicians. The leaders only focus on topics that are trending, which will get them the most attention and hence, the most brownie points with their party. The situation is not any different today. The politicians continue to make the same choices, and do not care whether the problems are solved or not.
Poverty was a very big part of the West Baltimore district when the show aired, and it continues to plague the people of the district. The downtrodden condition of the neighborhood, the lack of development and the lack of employment thereof have remained unchanged with time. This further fuels the crime rate that runs there.
The Wire pointed out towards the deep-rooted nature of the problems that plague the city. Even the show that ran for five seasons could not come up with a magical solution to all the real problems of Baltimore. But, it at least highlighted the urgent need for one. There is hope as long as people do not live under the pretense that nothing is wrong and continue to ignore these problems. Even worse, politicians should not have been allowed to use the unfortunate death of the teenager. The death was definitely saddening, but it was not the problem in itself, but a symptom of it. The Wire puts forth a lot of issues, which are definitely not a job of one man or one politician to solve them, like they were not in the show, but of every member of the society. The Wire airs on HBO, and you can watch it by purchasing a cable TV package.