The Wire

HBO (ended 2008)


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Show Summary

In chronicling a multi-generational family business dealing illegal drugs and the efforts of the Baltimore police to curb their trade, this series draws parallels between these organizations and the men and women on either side of the battle.

The words of Gary W. Potter, Professor of Criminal Justice and Police Studies at Eastern Kentucky University, in writing about the savings and loan scandals of the 1980s, can also be used to illuminate some of the central premises of the show:

"There is precious little difference between those people who society designates as respectable and law abiding and those people society castigates as hoodlums and thugs. The world of corporate finance and corporate capital is as criminogenic and probably more criminogenic than any poverty-wracked slum neighborhood. The distinctions drawn between business, politics, and organized crime are at best artificial and in reality irrelevant. Rather than being dysfunctions, corporate crime, white-collar crime, organized crime, and political corruption are mainstays of American political-economic life."

Tim Goodman, the television critic for The San Francisco Chronicle, summed the show up perfectly when he wrote: "This show is precisely the reason you pay for HBO."

In New York's Newsday, Diane Werts says: "Most TV crime series aspire to John Grisham's level. 'The Wire' aspires to Dostoevsky's."

Season Themes

Season One centers around a family of drug dealers and the innerworkings of their empire. It also follows the detectives who are trying to catch the high members of the empire. Season Two steps away from the drug trade (while still mentioning characters from the previous season) to a case of dead prostitutes which turns into a look at the corruption surrounding the Port. Season Three investigates politics and finishes the main stories that were left open in season one. Season Four focuses on four middle school students and their journeys through the public school system and continues to address the politics of an inner-city and the issues of an election. Season Five is rumored to be about the media's role in Baltimore. Season Five will be the show's final season.

Theme Music

In the Season One opening credits, the Blind Boys of Alabama did Tom Waits's "Way Down in the Hole". The Season Two opening credits feature Waits's version of the song. According to creator David Simon, "It was our way of saying: This is the same show (song) but this year, the tale itself (singer, tonality) will be different." The Neville Brothers's version of the song opens Season Three. The theme which plays over the end credits was composed by the show's music supervisor, Blake Leyh.

International Airings

Australia -- Monday at 12:00 p.m. on Ch.9. Currently airing Season 3. New Zealand -- Wednesday at 11:40 p.m. on TV2, beginning December 15, 2004.

Idris Elba

Idris Elba

Russell "Stringer" Bell

J.D. Williams

J.D. Williams

Preston "Bodie" Broadus

Clarke Peters

Clarke Peters

Det. Lester Freamon

Andre Royo

Andre Royo


Dominic West

Dominic West

Det. James "Jimmy" McNulty

Paul Ben-Victor

Paul Ben-Victor

Spiros "Vondas" Vondopoulos

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Fan Reviews (114)

  • Unique show. great acting. It's The Wire

    it's been like 13 years. well it doesn't matter. it's quite fascinating. if you haven't watched it yet, WHAT THE HELL MAN JUST WATCH IT
  • A typical cop show on a soapbox

    If you have the right kind of politics, you will absolutely love this show. For everyone else, it's nothing new. The show it at its best when it dramatizes real people and events from Baltimore during the 1990s, but at its absolute worst when it tries to promote the pro-union Democrat worldview. If you happen to have a pro-union Democrat worldview, you'll actually love these parts and the show will appear "deep and meaningful" to you, but it's a big reason why the ratings for this show were so poor for the general population. If you haven't bought into its meta-theme and ideology, it's hard to shake the sense that you're being preached to in every episode.

    Take special note of Felicia "Snoop" Pearson, who gives a stellar performance - in part because she's not really acting. She was picked up at a club and asked to do her role, without any prior acting experience, but with a murder conviction on her criminal record. She subsequently got caught for trafficking heroin after her stint on the show was over. In my opinion, she's the only authentic individual in the whole series. Even if you can't stand the politics, check it out just to see her do her thing.moreless
  • Sistine Chapel of Television

    I pity the fools(more likely the unfortunate ) who never had the patience to watch a couple of episodes of this masterpiece crafted in a camera reel. Yes, everyone has an opinion and I respect that but to love good TV and miss this show is like missing out on SEX in life(owing to the fact that most people consider it the best thing that ever happened to us ).

    Never has a television series portrayed the pathos of a social structure crumbling within itself yet staggering along as The Wire. The poignancy of the plot and the heart rendering performances by some of the most unlikely cast TV has ever seen.

    What makes it a utopian achievement in the history of television is not its impeccable plot and direction or even the performances or way it sensitized us. It was the "Humanness" of the show. It was soooo human in its portrayal of each and every character, plot and story. It never glorified any character and his deeds, it simply conveyed the truth of the consequences of our actions. The most truthful and humane show to be ever screened on television. Like a Dostoevsky novel Wire doesn't simply pierces into your hearts, it rattles your conscience and soul( if you believe in souls). I feel honoured to be able to have watched the show. Thank you David Simon and Ed Burns.

  • Bad Language

    I tried to watch the first episode but it was just FILLED with so much bad language that it felt like I was being hit in the face constantly. I'm sure this is authentic, I guess, but as much as I'd like to try to watch this acclaimed series, it just makes it too ugly.

    I wish they would back off the language on TV and in movies. It's gone too far. I didn't mind the amount of language in say, Breaking Bad. But every other word wasn't f- this and s- that. Yuck!moreless
  • Definitely not The Shield

    No, that show won't do it for me.

    Why that title? Because I read a lot of times The Shield and The Wire in the same sentences. It was obvious that a lot of fans of one were fans of the other. So, as an absolute fan of The Shield, I tried The Wire.

    And I just don't get the comparisons. I wouldn't say it's an insult to The Shield, because some people like The Wire and I respect that, but this is definitely different.

    The Shield is very fast paced. Everything is going very fast. The Wire is (very) slow. Long conversations without any pace for not much.

    The Shield is hand-held filmed (right term I hope), very documentary. You are IN the scene. It increases the immersion and the pace. The Wire is filmed very traditionally, like any other show like that. So I have the feeling to just watch an other tv show.

    I don't feel it is half as realistic as The Shield, I find the characters a bit clichs,...

    So you get it: The Wire, not for me.moreless
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    More Info About This Show




    issues with authority, the low class, undercover cops, Cop Shows, Crime