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Tips For Adulthood: Five Reasons To Watch The Wire

Every Wednesday I offer tips for adulthood. I’m incredibly sleep-deprived this week. And it’s not because I’ve been up working...

Every Wednesday I offer tips for adulthood.

I’m incredibly sleep-deprived this week. And it’s not because I’ve been up working late…or the kids are having trouble sleeping…or I just can’t put The Blind Side down.

Nope. It’s because my husband and I have been staying up late each night watching our box set collection of HBO’s hit series, The Wire.

Yeah, I know. We are *so* 2005. But we didn’t own Cable when the show first came out in 2002, and then we moved to London in 2006. So it took us awhile to get around to the whole DVD box set thing. This, despite the fact that everyone and their cousin had been telling us for ages that we simply *had* to see this show.

And now I know why. I’ve waxed poetic on this site before about my abiding love for Glee! . So I thought I’d burnish my street cred by balancing things out and telling you why – if you haven’t already done so – you need to watch The Wire:

1. The characters aren’t black and white. (No pun intended.) The Wire is a police drama set in inner-city Baltimore that documents the inner workings of police, gangs, politicians and assorted other institutions as they impact upon the drug trade. Because the show grew out of creator David Simon’s experiences as a police reporter in Baltimore, the whole thing rings very true. But what really draws me in are the characters. Very few of them are uniformly good or bad. The drug dealers are human. The cops drink too much and cheat on their wives. I can’t think of a television show where the protagonists lend themselves less to easy labeling.

2. It will make you want to go into teaching. If there’s one thing this show does well (but without preaching), it’s to show you the value of reaching inner city kids early. As someone observes in an episode I watched last night, by the time they’re 18, it’s too late. Even high school is too late. By the time they get to junior high – and often times before that – many of these kids are already skipping school to act as runners for drug dealers. And even the ones who aren’t “slingin’ product on the corners” are witnessing horrific acts of violence on a near-daily basis. As I ponder what’s next for me career-wise, I think a lot about teaching. And you will too. Which is just as it should be.

3. You learn a new vocabulary. One of the unforeseen pleasures of becoming a Wire junkie is that you gradually pick up the vernacular of the cops and the drug dealers. Expressions like “I feel you” (“I get your drift”) and “Re-up” (replenishing one’s drug supply) are now second-nature to me. I did, of course, reveal the limitations of my street cred when I mistook the slang term “shawty” (girlfriend) for “shorty.” Oh well. Can’t have everything.

4. It will strengthen your marriage. Part of the beauty- and the challenge – of watching The Wire is that it can be difficult to follow. Even once you get used to the accents, each season brings new characters and new plot twists, all the while building on the old ones. As a result, you can’t possibly watch this show without someone sitting right next to you. My husband and I routinely pause the DVD to remind ourselves who someone is or to figure out how they connect to the main drama. Thank goodness that now that we’ve reached Season Four, we can rely on this handy-dandy running commentary on the show from Slate, written back in the day. Can’t wait to dissect tonight’s episode!

5. You can friend the character Omar Little on Facebook. Waaaaaay cool.


Image: Sweet Inner Harbor Baltimore by mikeyexists via Flickr under a Creative Commons license.



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  1. Kristen @ Motherese August 3, 2011 at 7:12 pm #

    Oh, how I love The Wire! Imagine how cool my husband and I think we are when we ask if the other has “reupped” the diaper bag before a trip to the zoo. Just like the corner boys. Indeed.

  2. Wise Ears August 3, 2011 at 10:05 pm #

    Whenever I hear about somethings 3 times I usually follow through….this post was the third time I was referred to The Wire in three days….guess I better get with it :)
    Thank you
    Patricia from Patricias Wisdom

  3. Vicki August 4, 2011 at 2:38 am #

    LOVE the Wire, and most HBO series. I, too, often consider being a classroom teacher (I’m a yoga teacher and theatre teacher), and the Wire made that consideration stronger. So many good things about that show..thanks for the reminder!

    PS – have you seen Deadwood? Also a great HBO series. In a different way.

  4. delialloyd August 4, 2011 at 9:18 am #

    @kristen – love it! we “reup” everything as well onw. @patricia-yes you absolutely must! I converted someone else just last night. @Vicki-glad that it spoke to you about teaching as it did to me. I have not seen Deadwood-not sure it’s on in the UK but have heard good things. Also heard that Stringer Bell has a new police drama-must find it!

  5. Rose August 8, 2011 at 2:14 pm #

    I suggest watching the show with the closed-captioning turned on so you can pick up the language.
    Someone with a true deep Baltimore accent can be nearly impossible to understand.

    George Pellacanos, who is a favorite mystery writer of mine, is a writer on some of the later seasons. If you want more in the same vein it’s worth it to read some of his books. Although they’re set in DC instead of Baltimore he tells excellent stories.

  6. delialloyd August 8, 2011 at 2:22 pm #

    Thanks @rose. I have heard of Pellacanos and will look him up. We often rewind The Wire and listen to the dialogue again with subtitles if we miss something.

  7. Catie August 9, 2011 at 6:43 pm #

    I love your post. My boyfriend and I were completely hooked on The Wire last year and felt a little lost when it was over. No tv show since has lived up. We always watched the episodes with subtitles so we didn’t miss any of the dialogue because of the slang.

    • delialloyd August 9, 2011 at 7:00 pm #

      Thanks Catie. It’s so great, isn’t it? I think I’ll need to go into some sort of rehab when we finish.

  8. daryl boylan August 22, 2011 at 4:14 pm #

    Somebody show me how the subtitle thingy works — I’m American & couldn’t understand what the actors were saying!

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