The Wire, which aired on HBO from 2002 to 2008, is widely considered one of the greatest television shows of all time. The show’s creator, David Simon, is also regarded as one of the greatest showrunners of today. The series follows characters from each side of the law, encompassing a wide range of areas such as law enforcement, maritime trade, the drug and policing culture, education, and Baltimore’s local politics. Despite being 18 years old, The Wire continues to captivate audiences who are discovering it for the first time and keeps inspiring TV writers to create shows with a similar set up. Here’s why The Wire should be crowned the best TV show ever and why it is still a relevant part of the TV landscape in 2020.

Characters You Can Relate To

The most important element that makes a TV show memorable and defines it as a classic is the characters. The Wire features characters from all walks of life who are incredibly well developed and are filled with complexity. The characters are not all good or bad, and their struggles, ambitions and concerns make the show very relatable.

Take the main characters: Jimmy “McNulty”, a Baltimore police detective with a drinking problem and a penchant for not following the rules; Omar Little, a complicated criminal who steals from drug dealers while still embodying a sense of moral justice despite his lifestyle; Tommy Carcetti, a politician with an ambitious agenda to improve the state of Baltimore; and so many more. These characters are all multidimensional and thanks to the clever writing, this brings a level of realism that is rarely seen in other shows. Even the fictional characters feel like real people by the end of the series and each one is fleshed out in earnest.

The Show’s Commitment to Realism

The Wire isn’t a philosophical show or one that is filled with fantasy, but rather strives for realism. This is because of the show’s deep exploration of social issues and the city of Baltimore and its characters. The motion pictures use multiple cameras to capture the wide range of angles that the show presents its stories from, resulting in rich, immersive visuals. The dialogue is often ad-libbed and unscripted, giving the characters freedom to express themselves in their own words. The result is a one-of-a-kind show set in a very real world and focused on very real concerns. This is especially appreciated by viewers in 2020 because the issues brought up in the show remain relevant in our current society.

The Show Addresses Real Social Issues

The Wire isn’t just a show about criminals vs cops, but rather a more complex critique of the power dynamics and class systems of the city of Baltimore. The show isn’t afraid to take on serious issues such as institutionalized racism in the police department, misplaced government priorities, and the harsh reality of drug abuse and its consequences.

Different characters from different sides of the class divide have their unique stories explored and it’s through these stories that issues such as police corruption and a failing public education system become apparent. These are surprisingly real and still relevant issues, and by presenting them through a fictional setting, The Wire manages to be more powerful in its statement. With its unflinching honesty and commitment to realism, The Wire tackles more than just entertainment and providing a story. It has shown us some of the harsh realities that our society is still trying to grapple with today.

Whether it’s being praised for its characters, realism or its exploration of social issues, The Wire checks all the boxes for what makes a great TV show 18 years after its original run. This admiration for The Wire extends to its peers, as well, with modern shows like The Sopranos, Breaking Bad and Sons of Anarchy all taking inspiration from The Wire’s structure and storytelling techniques. Even if you’re one of the few out there that haven’t seen The Wire, its never too late to jump on board. After all, great TV shows are timeless and with the passing of time comes The Wire’s even greater appreciation of its timelessness. All in all, David Simon and HBO managed to captivate audiences with a gripping story and realistic characters, making The Wire one of the best TV shows of all time.

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