We Own This City
March 17, 2022 7:05 PM   Subscribe

Teaser Trailer for "We Own This City" from HBO and David Simon, premiering April 25. Based on the book of the same name by investigative journalist Justin Fenton, the miniseries tells the true story of the Gun Trace Task Force, the corrupt Baltimore police squad.
posted by riruro (24 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Looks good. Jon Bernthal played the Punisher in a couple of the Netflix Marvel series, doing about the only version of the character that I could possibly stand to watch, and I noticed a couple of other familiar faces (from The Wire and elsewhere) as well.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:43 PM on March 17 [1 favorite]

Marlo's a cop now? Same coin different side I guess.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 8:04 PM on March 17 [2 favorites]

Marlo's a cop now?

Please see Bosch.
posted by stevil at 9:44 PM on March 17 [17 favorites]

There was a BBC podcast not that long ago about this, it's called Bad Cops. Worth a listen I would say. It's a BBC World Service production, so should be available in many places.

I'm not sure if I want to see some of this stuff dramatised.
posted by mathw at 2:42 AM on March 18 [1 favorite]

One day Jon Bernthal will play a kind, generous gentle man who emotionally supports those around him.

But I probably won't bother to watch him then.
posted by biffa at 3:18 AM on March 18 [4 favorites]

Like truly, see Bosch because wow it’s good, Titus seethes with the same simmer as Jon. I’ll watch this one with interest too!
posted by BlunderingArtist at 5:01 AM on March 18 [2 favorites]

I'm torn about this.

On the one hand, as a life-long Baltimorean, I'm tired of only the worst parts of our city being publicized. I'm sick of people bringing up The Wire when I say I'm from Baltimore, with the implication that I'm living in a lawless third-world country. Where are the TV shows about the amazing work being done at Johns Hopkins or the Applied Physics Lab, the uplifting movie about Cal Ripken breaking the consecutive game record, or even the indie documentary about the Hampdenfest Toilet Bowl Race?

On the other hand, removing my personal baggage about the media treatment of Baltimore, this looks pretty good. And it's always good to see my semi-cousin, Baltimore booster Josh Charles (his aunt is married to my great uncle), and in an Orioles shirt no less.
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 6:55 AM on March 18 [14 favorites]

Careful or David Simon will do show-running for a gritty look at the seedy underbelly of the toilet bowl racing conspiracies.
posted by rmd1023 at 7:20 AM on March 18 [13 favorites]

david simon presents: charmin city
posted by lalochezia at 7:53 AM on March 18 [25 favorites]

Ben Trismegistus, I think the reason I love The Wire so much isn't because it paints Baltimore in this terrible light, it's because it paints the city as complex. There are reasons why things are fucked up, but they're not easy problems to fix. And meanwhile, most people are people: mostly nice, a little selfish at times, brave sometimes and sometimes cowardly. It feels True.

And I LOVE the fact that it's set in Baltimore, and not New York. I don't think NYC is a real place. It's just this made-up, storybook place filled with broadway and police procedurals and SNL and other fake things. But with The Wire, while it's set in Baltimore, it could easily be about 60 other towns in the US. You just KNOW the same shit is happening in Cincinnati, and Denver, and Austin, and Tallahassee, and and and.

So don't get too down about it. The Wire is the first show that ever made me think about Baltimore, ever, but more importantly, it made me think about Baltimore as a real place, filled with real people, as opposed to NYC which is all make believe nonsense.
posted by nushustu at 8:01 AM on March 18 [14 favorites]

The Wipe.
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 8:02 AM on March 18 [11 favorites]

I'll always go back to David Simon's phenomenal op-ed from many years ago when he talks about why he chose to set in Baltimore, much to the former Mayor's detriment:

So why Baltimore?

Why not some generic rust-belt location, never named or hinted at? Why not some vague, unspecific Hill-Street-Blues neighborhood: The Heights or The Hill or The Put-Name-Here Housing Project?

Well, it's subtle. But by choosing to tell our story in Baltimore and by showing fealty to the details of Baltimore, we reduce by some meaningful amount the artifice. We create an additional, though tacit argument on behalf of the stories themselves.


...By choosing a real city, we declare that the economic forces, the political dynamic, the class, cultural and racial boundaries are all that much more real, that they do exist in Baltimore and, therefore, they exist elsewhere in urban America.

The corresponding cost to Baltimore was tangible and understood: We put our town's shit in the street. And for that and that alone we ask apology for the premeditated trespass:

Sorry for that. Really—no sarcasm here—we acknowledge the affront and now at the end, we have the nerve to ask your indulgence.

posted by windbox at 8:04 AM on March 18 [4 favorites]

One day Jon Bernthal will play a kind, generous gentle man who emotionally supports those around him.
But I probably won't bother to watch him then.
posted by biffa at 6:18 AM on March 18

He did try playing a good guy in Wind River and... without spoilers, I can understand why he'd conclude that bad guys are the way to go.

Unrelatedly, can't help but notice that Bernthal's rocking a similar haircut to Officer Tony Colicchio from The Wire. Colicchio was portrayed as a violent, criminal cop, and was the kind of character who gets admired by shitty people. I wonder if there's a connection. Colicchio's seasons of The Wire would have been Jenkins' early years as a cop.

Or maybe Simon just likes giving bad cops embarrassing haircuts, I dunno.
posted by ZaphodB at 10:12 AM on March 18 [2 favorites]

For what it's worth, I once spent a week in Baltimore as a tourist specifically because The Wire had got me interested in the city. I'd have had no reason whatever to go there otherwise.
posted by Paul Slade at 10:32 AM on March 18 [4 favorites]

I can kind of get Baltimore people being a little tired of the rep; it would be similar to how some people regard Chicago, which I lived in as a teenager and still love visiting.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:43 AM on March 18 [1 favorite]

After listening to some interviews with Bernthal, and getting the sense that he’s a decent, liberal guy who really loves acting, I would rather have him play a corrupt cop like this than some jerkwad who says without irony, “I don’t even think of my guy as bad, really.”

I hope he has years and years ahead of him to play suburban dads and college professors. He can keep playing action monsters now while it will take less of a physical toll on him.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 11:57 AM on March 18 [2 favorites]

Also if you want to see Bernthal playing nicest smiley guy ever he's coach Rick Macci in King Richard, just huge Corny Sports Dad energy. All they did was give him a dad stache and some floppy 80's hair but beyond that I barely recognized him solely because his acting was so good.
posted by windbox at 12:12 PM on March 18 [1 favorite]

So don't get too down about it. The Wire is the first show that ever made me think about Baltimore, ever, but more importantly, it made me think about Baltimore as a real place, filled with real people, as opposed to NYC which is all make believe nonsense.

I sort of get this in that (as someone who has lived in Baltimore since 2008) I usually describe The Wire as something that definitely feels real, but is only about specific slices of the city. And Baltimore has a lot of good things that aren't seen -- the slices I can personally attest to as being good in some way (and there are many) were almost uniformly skipped. Of course, as a fairly privileged white person the slices the show is about are not the ones I have tended to intersect with, and in fact there is a pretty deep history of segregation that is a not irrelevant factor here. So it is definitely a complex issue.

Of course, We Own This City is going to be pretty real itself. The GTTF happened, and it was really awful for people and communities impacted, and continues to have consequences playing out (not to mention that it is unclear that the Baltimore police have fundamentally changed in any way whatsoever). I would like to see Baltimore depicted well, but I'm not at all sad that the GTTF scandal is not going away and even reaching a higher profile; maybe this show will be a copaganda antidote to at least some degree. Definitely worth looking at the recently completed investigation's executive summary.
posted by advil at 1:04 PM on March 18 [4 favorites]

We Own This City on Aitch Bee Ohhhh!

You're welcome.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 1:32 PM on March 18 [3 favorites]

Also a baltimorean, though not lifelong. And I agree, it's complicated. (For example, taking one of the above remarks as a jumping off point, the story of Johns Hopkins University and its often predatory relationship to the city's Black neighborhoods is gnarly enough all by itself to have at least one long book, Ghosts of Johns Hopkins, written fully about it). Baltimore, to most of the outside world, conjures images of a corrupt, moribund wasteland. It is not by accident that Donald Trump set the city in his sights and trashed it as a rat infested hellhole, or whatever it was he popped off with. He knew full well what his white base thought of Baltimore, and he conjured that spookyscary image for them. The Wire, unfortunately, is part of that image and plays into it, though it is also a nuanced show in its own right. Part of the problem is that white society still grants much more prestige to stories that hone in on Black pain rather than Black joy.

I've seen comments on metafilter that oppose The Wire on general principle, since several of the protagonists are cops and, well, All Cops Are Bastards, and we should never valorize them. The ACAB gets the point across as a slogan, but I think it personalizes the problem too much; it nudges us to imagine every police officer as a mustache twirling villain, and I think it also nudges us to think that we might do better if we ever got Freaky Fridayed into a cop's shoes. But one of the things I do like about The Wire is that it explores how systems (a police department, or a racial caste system in general) can twist the people who are caught up in them, no matter what kind of people they are. In other words, even a cop with good intentions (or a white American with good intentions!) is inexorably pushed toward becoming A Bastard.

BTW, if you are interested in learning about Baltimore and its history of racial violence and systematic disenfranchisement, I wholeheartedly recommend The Black Butterfly. It is meticulously researched and lays out How We Got Here, with special attention to the Freddie Gray protests and how the media (and yes, the fucking baltimore cops!) sank their teeth into the whole fiasco. Seriously, check the book out. Some of the racial rhetoric that was used by "neighborhood improvement associations" over a hundred years ago would be laughable if it weren't fucking identical to the rhetoric that is still used today.
posted by cubeb at 1:39 PM on March 18 [13 favorites]

Yet another Baltimorean here. Related to cubeb’s bit about Trump, Jared Kushner apparently owns many properties in and around town here, some infested with vermin. Of course - Trump’s Mirror.
I do hope the show is good - have some friends who worked on it.
The book We Own This City is very good and interesting, but somewhat dry. Another book covering the Gun Trace Task Force is I’ve Got a Monster, which I found more of an entertaining read. I thought that the two complimented each other nicely. It's an awful story, equal parts I Can’t Believe These Bastards and Yeah Of Course - Suspicions Confirmed.
posted by zoinks at 7:37 PM on March 18

but I think it personalizes the problem too much; it nudges us to imagine every police officer as a mustache twirling villain

ACAB, as a phrase, is shorthand for opposing an institutional force of social control that has roots in slave catching and strike breaking, an issue you yourself acknowledge. in enforcing the rule of law, which you can argue is corrupted not by individuals but by the very arrangement of power (white lawmakers, anti-Black drug laws / public defender funding vs prosecutor offices / carryover laws from the days of avoiding desgregation in everything but name, redlining as a whole, etc)

all cops are bastards because law enforcement is an institution that stands in direct opposition to mass action and sides with enforcing the powers of the elite - it corrals, breaks up, assaults protests, it uses the threat of violent action to deter civil disobedience, all the while pushing the limits of personal liberties through the use of military training and gear. individuals who willingly choose to be complicit in and facilitate the powers of this institution despite knowing the widespread suffering it creates are, in short, fucking bastards

speaking of fucking bastards, there are very good criticisms of The Wire and how it operates subversively, whether intentional or not, as a piece of media that upholds and enforces the status quo by omission of organizers/regular people, and by it's creation of a 'good' group of hardworking cops stymied by politics who, as it turns out, were fucking abusive and corrupt all along regardless of how their strings were pulled
posted by paimapi at 8:41 PM on March 18 [3 favorites]

Regardless of how you feel about the Wire, I would strongly advise not searching for David Simon's Twitter feed. Could be a real "never meet your heroes" moment for some.

Also, Ed Norris now hosts a morning drive-time sports talk radio program in the Baltimore area with a fellow former police officer.

Strange place Baltimore is ......
posted by eagles123 at 11:29 PM on March 19

I will gobble this up, just like I did with The Wire and The Deuce. David Simon hasn't disappointed me yet. And, honestly, his Twitter feed is basically what you'd expect, and I like him more for it.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 11:42 PM on March 19 [2 favorites]

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