I am five episodes into The Wire's final season. It's kind of heartbreaking, as my favorite bad guys keep dying. This season is also pretty goddamn intense, as they are finishing it up with ten episodes instead of the normal thirteen (perhaps to take on the "make more with less" theme so prevalent in the newspaper storyline). Anyway, it's still amazing, and I'm going to be very sad when it's over.
I think I'll be reading old interviews and stories about the show for the rest of my life. Here's an excerpt great piece from August 2007's issue of The Believer, wherein Nick Hornby interviews creator David Simon:
I pitched The Wire to HBO as the anti–cop show, a rebellion of sorts against all the horseshit police procedurals afflicting American television. I am unalterably opposed to drug prohibition; what began as a war against illicit drugs generations ago has now mutated into a war on the American underclass, and what drugs have not destroyed in our inner cities, the war against them has. I suggested to HBO—which up to that point had produced groundbreaking drama by going where the broadcast networks couldn’t (The Sopranos, Sex and the City, et al…)—that they could further enhance their standing by embracing the ultimate network standard (cop show) and inverting the form. Instead of the usual good guys chasing bad guys framework, questions would be raised about the very labels of good and bad, and, indeed, whether such distinctly moral notions were really the point.
The show would instead be about untethered capitalism run amok, about how power and money actually route themselves in a postmodern American city, and, ultimately, about why we as an urban people are no longer able to solve our problems or heal our wounds. Early in the conception of the drama, Ed Burns and I—as well as the late Bob Colesberry, a consummate filmmaker who served as the directorial producer and created the visual template for The Wire—conceived of a show that would, with each season, slice off another piece of the American city, so that by the end of the run, a simulated Baltimore would stand in for urban America, and the fundamental problems of urbanity would be fully addressed.
First season: the dysfunction of the drug war and the general continuing theme of self-sustaining postmodern institutions devouring the individuals they are supposed to serve or who serve them. Second season: the death of work and the destruction of the American working class in the postindustrial era, for which we added the port of Baltimore. Third season: the political process and the possibility of reform, for which we added the City Hall component. Fourth season: equal opportunity, for which we added the public-education system. The fifth and final season will be about the media and our capacity to recognize and address our own realities, for which we will add the city’s daily newspaper and television components.