Perhaps the Most Difficult Question I’ve Ever Tried to Address

August 15, 2006

For the last half week, I’ve been holed up in the lab watching season 3 of The Wire and telling everyone and their mother how phenomenal the show is (Jen’s mom was particularly surprised: not only do I rarely call their home number, I always ask for Jen directly; we never just Kibbitz. Plus, her only exposure to Dominic West was his endlessly memorable showing in The Forgotten, so she was a bit confused that he could be so awesome.). Suffice it to say it’s been a pretty intense week. I don’t know what to do with myself, other than possibly move to Baltimore and get a job as an enforcer for some sort of scallywag drug crew.

Alec, however, does not seem to like season 3 of The Wire e.g. giving it 2 Netflix stars. I want to set the record straight. Alec really liked the season, he was just really angry about the way that it ended. But being so angry is actually symptomatic of having enjoyed it so, and caring so much about the characters. I therefore offer this blog entry as an addendum to his Netflix grade. Be advised any of Alec’s friends seeing his grade: he really loves The Wire deeply.

Perhaps to get me to stop talking about the Wire, Alec lent me his DVD of Season 4 of the Shield. It really is a good show….but better than the Wire? This entails more comparison.

1) Scope of the show. No Question, the Wire. If the Shield is about the Farm, the Wire is about the entire world of Bodymore, Murderland. The detail we’re given on the Wire is staggering. It’s like knowing the name, rank and serial number of every person in the Los Mags. Edge: The Wire

2) Acting. While the Wire’s crew put in some great work, and the show gets points for having so many good actors, the individual performances on the Shield are almost nonpareil. Edge. The Shield.

3) Policeman-ship. If I needed to be saved immediately, no questions asked, the dudes on the Shield. If I wanted laws to be obeyed, and the bad guys to go to jail, I need the guys in the major case unit. Push

4) The villains. Hard to say. The villains on the Shield really improved as the show went on, while the Wire moved toward a different model of television-matic villainy. Really tough to decide, but ultimately, I have to decide on The Wire because it recognizes that society is the true villain.

5) Watchability. The Wire is a television novel, building over multi-episode arcs. The Shield is an in your face, fuck your sister, take no prisoners, community chest landing upon thrill ride. For the first 6 episodes of a season: The Shield. Thereafter, The Wire.

6) Main Characters. The Shield. The Wire really is an ensemble piece, with countless storylines. Even though the Shield isn’t a one person show any more, the main characters shine through. The principals on the Wire are too often lost in a mess of intertextuality.

7) Verisimilitude. The Wire

The winner: The Wire. Some may complain about the deciding factor. If so, I recommend reading 17th century literary theory. Verisimilitude is the highest aim of any art.

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4 Responses to “Perhaps the Most Difficult Question I’ve Ever Tried to Address”

  1. Mel Gibson Says:

    Society is only the true villain because it’s run by Jews.

  2. Alec Says:

    I also gave Rome a bad rating because they killed off my (second) favorite character.

    You are quite correct in stating that my distate for the Wire stems directly from the fact that I was enjoying it so. After a certain point, however, my enjoyment turned to disappointment which soured me on the whole affair. Whether or not I vastly enjoyed the first 80% of the season is irrelevant. The season as a whole left a bitter 3-star taste in my mouth.

  3. Erik Says:

    These shows are all poor substitutes for Trailer Park Boys.


  4. […] Were they popular? Within the context of the fictional world, how is their legacy viewed? Verisimilitude is also important. How plausible is it that such a person could become president or that their outlined policies […]


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