My Uncle wrote this outstanding review on his first impressions of the series The Wire, in which he explains why, despite its critical acclaim and commercial success, he is not a fan of the series (as I am).
Aside from Brevity (a word which I am only familiar with thanks to the Coen Brothers' film "The Big Lebowski"), the main reason he gives for his dislike of the series is the fact that it is too real, and that with the knowledge of these communities that watching the opening of the series has given him, it seems "almost negligent to plan to spend sixty hours on the sofa when I could devote some of that time at least to the community-building activities – like childrens’ moral classes or inter-faith devotionals or events to empower junior youth – which will ultimately create a new world, in Baltimore and everywhere else."
While I cannot in any way disagree with the statement that these things do all need to happen, and that spending time working on such programs would be infinitely more useful to society as a whole than just sitting and watching TV, I would just like to make a couple of points of my own, in defence of my watching the entire 5 series over the summer...
1. Unfortunately, many of us are not concerned with what's happening to people on the other side of the world, and will only focus on the here and now. The very fact that this series has gotten my Uncle thinking about the conditions in the more deprived parts of cities such a Baltimore proves the worth of the series - if we were never told about what was happening in the rest of the world, we would never strive to change the world and correct these injustices. In a sense, the very existence of the series is helping people, and a direct case of this is:
2. Felicia Pearson. Pearson's parents were both incarcerated when she was born, and instead of going to school, she began drug dealing as a child. Aged 14, she was convicted of second degree murder, and served 6 years of an 8 year sentence at the Maryland Correctional Institution for Women in Jessup. Even though she earned her GED in prison, and made the decision to turn her life around, she found herself unable to get a job due to her criminal record. Pearson would almost certainly have returned to drug dealing just to survive at this point, were it not for the fact that she met Michael K. Williams (Omar) in a club one night, and he invited her to come to the set of The Wire. She met the producers, and they decided to hire her right away. Since then, she has gone on to write a book, star in 2 movies, and record an album, all thanks to The Wire. Now, I'm not saying that watching the show now it's finished will help anyone, but I just wanted to put things in perspective - had The Wire never existed, or been cancelled after the first Season or two due to poor ratings, this young girl (who is actually older than me, but I digress...) would almost certainly either be out on the streets, or in prison once again. As it is, she's riding high off the success of The Wire, and has really turned things around, I think the fact that the show has managed to have such a positive effect on even one life is a testament to the good that can come from the filming of such a program. Finally
3. The main purpose of the series is entertainment. If I'm honest with myself, I would have to admit that even if I did object to watching The Wire on the grounds that the time could be better spent helping develop community projects and youth outreach programs, I would probably just spend the actual times when I would be watching The Wire watching House, M.D. (or something similar) instead. Obviously, it's a good idea to put time aside to working on charitable projects, and helping people, but it's very unlikely that this will co-inside with what would otherwise be "TV time", as you tend to watch these shows late at night before bed, so would not want to work then, anyway.
Those are just my thoughts - and as I said, it's probably just rationalisation for my love of the show when confronted with the suggestion that I should probably be doing more worthwhile things with my time...
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