Processing ‘The Wire’


Sometimes I don’t talk about food and gluten on this blog.  Today is going to be one of those days.

Earlier this spring, my friend, Jen, encouraged (ok, forced) David and me to watch ‘The Wire.’ A year or two earlier we attempted tackling this show via our Netflix queue and I couldn’t get through the first two episodes.  I wrote ‘The Wire’ off as too violent, too many F-bombs and too confusing.  Jen doesn’t like a quitter so she made us give it another try.

Five months later, we’ve watched all five seasons of this HBO drama based on the city of Baltimore, where David and I lived during our first two years of marriage.  (The suburb of Lutherville that we called home was drastically different than the corners where the show takes place.)

I have to admit, during the first few episodes, I had no idea what was going on and I hated it.  I hated the show; I hated its violence; I detested the cursing; I couldn’t figure out who the characters were and what was happening with the story line.  It made me feel stupid and wimpy.

That being said, on Sunday night David and I stayed up until midnight (that’s about two hours later than I normally go to bed), watching the final episode.  I’m relieved it’s over so I can move on with my life.

There’s no way that I can adequately describe ‘The Wire’ in a post and do it justice.  I very much have a love/hate relationship with this show and the characters that consumed my waking and sleeping for the last five months.  Gritty and brutal,‘The Wire’ traces the intertwined lives of fictional Baltimore city cops, drug dealers, addicts, politicians and even children.



Each season has a different theme: drugs, the docks, politics, journalism.  Of course my favorite theme was education, during the fourth season.  The brokenness of the public school systems as well as the inability for children to break out of the world they’re born into was absolutely heartbreaking.  I felt utterly hopeless as I watched.  I think this season particularly affected me because I taught in Baltimore, but in a very different setting.  I worked in a private school for affluent families and students who had infinitely more opportunities than Randy, Dukie, Namon and Michael on ‘The Wire,’ despite living only 15 minutes apart.



I neglected to mention when I wrote about our anniversary, that just before dinner, we watched the final two episodes of the fourth season and I hysterically cried only thirty minutes before our fancy evening out.  Yes, I know these people aren’t real, but it’s all too real nonetheless.  The Towers and the corners are such a foreign, yet close, world, and the people and children unwillingly affected by it are hauntingly real.  For the bulk of our ‘Wire viewing,’ Jen has been in Europe, living the life of an ex-pat, reading, journaling and sight seeing.  Meanwhile, I’m in Atlanta, Georgia, literally weeping while watching this show.  Thanks, Jen.

I’m not quite sure who I would recommend ‘The Wire’ to.  In the last five months, I’ve always been excited to find someone else that watched the show.  (Before we got hooked, people who watched ‘The Wire’ annoyed me.)  The other night, we discovered that our friend, Amy Julia and her husband watched ‘The Wire,’ and I felt an immediate bond because we’d shared five seasons of murder, drugs, fraud, hope and hopelessness through the lives of Daniels, Omar, Bubbles, McNulty, and Presbo.  I feel smart and accomplished for making it through the series (Is that bad?) and I don’t regret watching it.  I will never watch the show again, however, and I even vowed on four different occasions while watching the show that I would never watch another episode.

The final episode was bittersweet but it was time.  Time to say goodbye to the Corners, to the Greek, to the completely flawed police officers I’d come to know for the previous 57 episodes.  It would have been nice, however, to have a little more closure in the final episode.  Of course I was still left with many questions.  Why did we barely see Presbo in the last season?  What happened to Randy?  Does Kema spend more time with her son?  Does McNulty get clean?  What happens to Cutty?

Do you watch ‘The Wire?’ Favorite characters?  Is it hopeful or hopeless?  Do you get annoyed with people who are obsessed with talking about ‘The Wire?’ Thoughts?

  1. David says:

    I am emotionally exhausted.

  2. Betsy says:

    Of course not! You were right…we loved it. Can’t wait to debrief in person. Come home soon.

  3. Laura says:

    That’s so interesting that you talked about ‘The Wire.’ I’m a high school teacher and I feel like the major thing I accomplished over the summer was watching this show start to finish. My husband and I would turn it on the moment our daughter went to bed. Like you, I needed to remind myself they weren’t real people. Great blog, by the way, thanks so much for putting it out there.

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