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Stealing Life, profile of 'The Wire', by Margret Talbot
October 15, 2007 10:50 AM   Subscribe

Margaret Talbot's wonderful profile of David Simon, the creator of "The Wire." Simon said, he and his colleagues had “ripped off the Greeks: Sophocles, Aeschylus, Euripides. Not funny boy—not Aristophanes. We’ve basically taken the idea of Greek tragedy and applied it to the modern city-state.” He went on, “What we were trying to do was take the notion of Greek tragedy, of fated and doomed people, and instead of these Olympian gods, indifferent, venal, selfish, hurling lightning bolts and hitting people in the ass for no reason—instead of those guys whipping it on Oedipus or Achilles, it’s the postmodern institutions . . . those are the indifferent gods.”
posted by geoff. (34 comments total) 36 users marked this as a favorite

 
I don't know what it is about The Wire, but not only is the show great, but every article I ever read about it is great as well.

Perhaps that's just how it is for a fanboy?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:17 AM on October 15, 2007


<3
posted by cowbellemoo at 11:17 AM on October 15, 2007


The Wire? Fuck.
posted by ColdChef at 11:22 AM on October 15, 2007 [1 favorite]


Sheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit.

Great article by the way. 12 pages flew by.
I wish the show would go another 5 years.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 11:31 AM on October 15, 2007


Metafilter: All in the game, yo.
posted by basicchannel at 11:35 AM on October 15, 2007


Once, a man pressed a package of heroin into the hands of Andre Royo, the actor who plays the sympathetic junkie and police informant Bubbles, saying, “Man, you need a fix more than I do.” Royo refers to that moment as his “street Oscar.”
OMFG!
posted by cowbellemoo at 11:39 AM on October 15, 2007 [10 favorites]


Great piece, even though I've yet to sit down and watch The Wire. Thanks, geoff.!
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:41 AM on October 15, 2007


New Yorker also had a good piece about David Milch a while back.
posted by dobbs at 11:43 AM on October 15, 2007


Before I read it, can someone let us know how it is spoiler-wise? I've only seen the first 1.5 seasons, and definitely plan to watch the rest of the series...
posted by mr_roboto at 11:58 AM on October 15, 2007


Before I read it, can someone let us know how it is spoiler-wise? I've only seen the first 1.5 seasons, and definitely plan to watch the rest of the series...

Yeah, unfortunately theres some big ones in there.
You should mos def download, print or bookmark it to read when youre done. It's great stuff.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 12:06 PM on October 15, 2007 [1 favorite]


The queen ain't no bitch.

It was D's (I think) speech about how Chess is like the Game that made me REALLY realize how supurbly well crafted The Wire is.
posted by absalom at 12:17 PM on October 15, 2007 [1 favorite]


I was about to quote the same thing, cowbellemoo.
posted by gaspode at 12:24 PM on October 15, 2007


If you guys like that scene where McNulty and Bunk are re-examining a murder scene and saying nothing but "Fuck" for 3 minutes, I used the dialogue from that scene as a sample when I created this.

For anyone out there that hasn't been caught up in the magic that is The Wire, just a warning that its hyperrealism will make it difficult to enjoy most other shows. You'll yearn for the layers of complexity The Wire offers. Can't recommend it enough.
posted by Mach3avelli at 12:31 PM on October 15, 2007


Once, a man pressed a package of heroin into the hands of Andre Royo, the actor who plays the sympathetic junkie and police informant Bubbles, saying, “Man, you need a fix more than I do.”

This was the only bit of that article that didn't ring true. Unless US junkies are somehow different to the British variety, I honestly don't see them handing over their scarce and expensive dope to an actor who plays a snitch on TV.

I mean, heroin is strong, but it doesn't make you bone stupid.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:07 PM on October 15, 2007


"scarce and expensive dope"

heroin is neither scarce nor expensive around these parts
posted by bobot at 1:45 PM on October 15, 2007


If I had to pick just one scene of brilliance from the entire series I'm thinking it would be Bodie listening to A Prairie Home Companion.
posted by well_balanced at 1:56 PM on October 15, 2007 [3 favorites]


just a warning that its hyperrealism will make it difficult to enjoy most other shows.

i haven't watched it except on clips from youtube, but I grew up in Baltimore near the area where the book was based. incidentally, the street scenes don't look to me to have been filmed in b-more but maybe i'm wrong...

I have no idea about how it does on the details of the drug trade, but people (black people) do not talk that way in baltimore. from the clips, it seemed like they had a sort of pseudo-shakespearean thing going on, both in voice and writing. i would never describe it as hyper-realistic at least as per dialogue. that's not a criticism, i've always appreciated moving pictures that ditched the illusion of 'realistic' dialogue... but the wire is probably better drama than documentary: see aeschylus.
posted by geos at 3:07 PM on October 15, 2007


I really am starting to think the world is divided into those who think The Wire is the best show ever made and those who just haven't seen it yet.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:15 PM on October 15, 2007 [9 favorites]


Fucking love this show. Surprised about the focus on the media this season, though... there was a scene last season with(character) rifling through old files on various other (characters) seeming like he was musing about all of the corruption he knew about, maybe thinking about exposing some people. But maybe that's going to be another plot point this time around.

But as a former newspaper man (and former Maryland newspaper man at that) I'm thrilled at the setting for this season.
posted by emelenjr at 3:18 PM on October 15, 2007


heroin is neither scarce nor expensive around these parts

I've bought dope in Harlem -- the cheapest and most abundant of the US drug markets. It counts as scarce and expensive in my book.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:05 PM on October 15, 2007


I'm NetFlixing The Wire right now. I'm only done with Season 1, but this show is simply the best thing going.
posted by cyclopticgaze at 4:33 PM on October 15, 2007


incidentally, the street scenes don't look to me to have been filmed in b-more but maybe i'm wrong...

You are, it is filmed in Baltimore. You really need to actually watch more than YouTube clips because your criticisms aren't on point.
posted by Falconetti at 5:34 PM on October 15, 2007


A Guided Tour of The Wire's East Baltimore, via this Ask MetaFilter thread, which mentions some additional locations.
posted by kirkaracha at 5:52 PM on October 15, 2007


The The Wire isn't just great TV, it's goddamned important. I can't say enough about it.

Although, it does make me worry that if a friend of mine were to watch it and not like it, we couldn't be friends anymore.
posted by krippledkonscious at 6:11 PM on October 15, 2007


I love this show. My girlfriend fell asleep during the season four finale. I still love her, but I chalk this up to my Herculean tolerance for other people's flaws.
posted by Edgewise at 7:17 PM on October 15, 2007 [2 favorites]


On April 30, 2007, production for Season 5 officially began. It is expected to premiere on January 6, 2008.[3]
-- source
posted by rsanheim at 7:19 PM on October 15, 2007


It would seem repetitive at this point to chime in with the phrase "Best TV Show ever". But then I realize how many people have never seen it, and that's just a shame. So I'll chime in.

The Wire is real adult storytelling that attempts to tell some sort of relevant truth about the actual world we live in. I use the word "attempt" very deliberately, in that the show does not make the easy mistake of pretending to be the final word on any of the subjects it raises. Yet it still gets closer to the truth than 99% of everything else passing for entertainment these days. Especially moreso than the news, which may present facts, but is so far from the truth that it's downright frightening at times.

It's kind of spooky how on target this show has been in articulating a very specific feeling that seems to be pervasive these days. That feeling I get when I'm standing in the security line at the airport wondering for the umpteenth time why exactly I have to take off my damn shoes. Or when some person on the other side of a counter is telling you that there's nothing they can do to help you, even though you both know there's something very simple (and right) they can do to help you. But you know..."rules". The feeling that somehow we've lost reason, and we've lost judgement, and the basic value of human interaction has been worn down to nothing, and no matter what direction you point your finger, there's another finger pointing in some other direction. Sometimes I talk to people, or read the paper, or get caught up in some Metafilter thread, and everyone seems so damn sure of themselves about how right they are on whatever subject, and all I can think is "Don't you people see? There's no such thing as right anymore." Some things are frustrating, and some thing are wrong, and some things are mind-bendingly-surreally wrong, but nothing is ever just plain right.

And then I watch the Wire, and feel somewhat assured that someone else out there not only sees it, but in some genius way has managed to show every little tiny way in which our world is fucked up, present no answers whatsoever, yet still make me feel better about it in the end.

Best TV Show Ever.
posted by billyfleetwood at 7:27 PM on October 15, 2007 [3 favorites]


Here's one of the previous awesome posts about The Wire.
posted by mediareport at 10:23 PM on October 15, 2007


I'm waiting for season four to come out on DVD and trying to find something good to fill the time. Only thing I've enjoyed recently is The Three Burials of of Melquiades Estrada.

Oddly, right after finishing season three, the next thing I saw was I Think I Love my Wife (Chris Rock version). Didn't care for the movie, but there were two actors from The Wire in it.
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 10:53 PM on October 15, 2007


Yeah, "The Wire" is locked in death-struggle atop Seattle's Space Needle, vying with "Buffy" for the title of My Favorite Show.

My NetFlix supply just ran dry, and the wait for the Season Four re-up is agonizing.
posted by darth_tedious at 10:39 AM on October 16, 2007


My wife and I have been catching the re-runs on BET. She said she didn't want to come in in the middle of things, and I told her "don't worry about the plot or the backstory or who anybody is. For now, just dig on the amazing dialog, actors, camera work, etc etc." We will eventually go through from beginning to end, but even ripped out of context, this show just shines.
posted by whuppy at 2:06 PM on October 16, 2007


Yeah, "The Wire" is locked in death-struggle atop Seattle's Space Needle, vying with "Buffy" for the title of My Favorite Show.

Seconded.
posted by Sandor Clegane at 2:51 PM on October 16, 2007


a friend of mine said it best, "i wish i could go back and watch it for the first time all over again." that was the recommendation that got me started on it and he couldn't have been more right.

when i was trying to figure out what was so great about the show, it occured to me that (at least to me) it seems like the closest representation the medium has come to emulating a book. whenever a season ends i have this feeling of loss that even the best movies don't leave, i only get that after an especially great book comes along.
posted by andywolf at 4:31 PM on October 16, 2007


if you dig the show i suggest reading here. came across it looking thru the other post mentioned above. some cool details you probably missed.
posted by andywolf at 4:51 PM on October 16, 2007


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