Monday, April 26, 2010

Film on TV: The Wire (Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Game)

Why do I love "The Wire" so much and why should you too?

1- "This is Baltimore, gentlemen. The gods will not save you." - Commissioner Ervin H. Burrell

"The Wire" could have been called "Baltimore" and nobody would have complained. Baltimore is not only a character, it is the protagonist. It is the Mount Olympus. Without it, nothing would have existed in "The Wire" universe. It is the singular force that holds it all together. And when I say "Baltimore", I don't specifically mean Baltimore, MD. Sure, the events and the characters are shaped by the real city itself: they are the product of what the "real" Baltimore is, or is imagined to be. But, Baltimore of "The Wire" is developed as a character as well: its quirks are drawn out, its back story is fleshed out just like you would for a character you are creating. It is transformed from an archetype to a tangible, real character. Not many TV shows (if any), nor many films could lay claim to set their story in an environment so elaborately designed, but perfectly formulated and presented. Because of this, I love "The Wire". And so should you.

2- "Nigger, is you taking notes on a criminal fucking conspiracy?" - Stringer Bell

"The Wire" is funny. It is funnier than your above average sitcom. It is as consistently funny as your really-above-average sitcom. It is as effortlessly funny as your favourite sitcom of all time. The only difference between "The Wire" and the greatest sitcom ever is that "The Wire" is not a sitcom. Nor does it try to be. The humour in "The Wire" comes from the story. It oozes from the character interaction. It is there for you to enjoy and it will enhance your enjoyment. "The Wire" is hilarious. Because of this, I love "The Wire". And so should you.

3- "Mishy mishy, mushy mushy, motherfucker." - Detective Lester Freamon

"The Wire" is a joy to listen to. No line of dialogue is wasted on our ears. Every line uttered brings with it a baggage of immense weight that has reverberations in how we perceive that scene and in how we can contextualize it. They are words that not only reflect who and what the characters are, but they elevate the story and the themes to all new levels. You are witness to a magnificent oration. The only other example that is in the same league (scratch that, in then same sport) is "Deadwood". The latter's high-brow utterances may drive some to get lost in the plot (not this dude). "The Wire", on the other hand, employs a language that is an integral part of its universe. Because of this, I love "The Wire". And so should you.

4- "I swear to fucking Christ, we will beat you longer and harder than you beat your own dick." - Sgt. Ellis Carver

"The Wire" doesn't hold anything back. It doesn't hold back the language it uses, it doesn't hold back the violence it bestows, it doesn't hold back the plots that it weaves, it doesn't hold back in the clothes that it sheds ... "The Wire" will take you to the edge, dangle you some, and will let you fall if it is necessary for the plot. It is admirable how far it will take you. If you can't handle the ride, so be it. It will take you there anyway. Deal with it. Because of this, I love "The Wire". And so should you.

5- "What are you late for?"
    "Suck what?" - Det. Jimmy McNulty and Bubbs

"The Wire" has little things. Things you have to try very hard to conceal underneath the artifice you are creating. Those little things should not stick out. They should not be too subtle to be only visible to the trained eye either. They should appear when they should, in the manner that they should, and in the frequency that won't hurt your tolerance level. "The Wire" is that kind of a show. It shows tender moments in the middle of a brutal murder. It shows humour, while pointing out a wrong in the society. It shows you something, but means something else entirely. And yet you're still following the story. Because of this, I love "The Wire". And so should you.

There are many other reasons why I love "The Wire". And so should you.

"The fuck did I do?"

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