The Wire is Deeper Than You Think

The Wire is Deeper Than You Think


If we’ve said anything with The Wire
we’ve tried to critique the drug war for being what it is in places like West
Baltimore it is no longer a war against dangerous narcotics. It may be have begun
as such but now it is a war against the underclass and it’s being fought by
people who have against people who have not. There have been very few television
shows that embrace the idea of real human beings on a real human scale it’s
really hard to do I’m hard to keep people interested but we were not
interested in being hyperbolic with the show the show is rooted in people who
were rooted in a real place and that’s improbable for television and that’s
what I think that’s what everyone felt was so subversive it was a it was a very
idiosyncratic message from up from a very real place look may I do what I can
do to help y’all but the game is out there and it’s either play or get played
if there’s anything that distinguishes the wire from a lot of the serialized
drama you see it was that the writers were not from television none of us grew
up thinking we wanted to get to Hollywood and write a TV show or a movie
ed Byrnes was a cop and then he was a schoolteacher there were journalists on
the writing staff there were novelists there were playwrights too everyone
began somewhere else in the beginning there is the story what story are you
trying to tell what characters are required to successfully tell that story
it is the writers responsibility to treat the character as a complete human
after that the writing is just organic shit’s going wrong here’s where I think
it’s going wrong and here’s what I think might make it right that impulse was the
same in the wire writing room as it would be at the editorial board of a
good newspaper we’re building a house here every single one of us all the
writers all the actors all the crew all the directors everything in our bag of
tricks it’s all the tools in the toolbox it’s not about how often the hammer
comes out it’s about the house we’re building I’m not one of those people who
likes writing I just have to do it I tend to pace
around and think about scenes I tend to take a nap in the middle of the day I
tend to struggle to stay at the computer or I’ll stay at the computer and
research a point heavily I’ll flail around for an hour and a half to get to
small phrases that’ll end up cutting anyways it’s not really dawdling because
all that time thinking about it worrying about it is me coming up with better
ideas or throwing out bad ideas and then when the script is finally do I’ll be
spitting it out as fast as I can one piece of advice would just be this
don’t tell a story because you’re sustaining a franchise don’t tell a
story because they’ve given you hours to make a TV show and you want to have an
audience that’s the problem with most episodic television which is that once
you get a TV show up you think that the meaning of your life is to keep the show
up at all costs so if the audience is one more Omar give them more Omar if
they want more stringer Bell give them more stringer so the greater questions
which I think a lot of writers and television don’t ask themselves are why
are you telling this story what does the story mean when you can answer the big
questions then you are ready to write you can’t even call this shit of war why
not war’s end on the wire we were trying to
explore this stuff you don’t see the dope on the table all that has been done
to death sometimes the real poetry of police work is a couple of detectives
with their feet on a desk in the back room looking at ballistics and that
sounds like anti drama but that’s a trick to making good drama the drama has
to be earned there have to be moments of anti drama you can’t make a good show
based on pure verisimilitude pure anti drama but you have to acknowledge a lot
of ordinary life most TV doesn’t do that I’m not interested in like labels of
good and evil like this guy’s a drug dealer so he’s evil or this guy’s a cop
so he’s good or this guy’s politician he’s either good or evil either a good
guy or a former or a bad guy a guy needs to be thrown out of office that whole
dynamic is that’s the pornography of American
entertainment I look at these TV things as being a chance to have a discussion
about something more than I wish these two characters would get together I wish
that he wouldn’t have gotten killed you know I understand that the viewers
experience it that way and they’re not wrong but man if all you’re doing is
being entertaining I don’t know that I can sort of like look sort of the ghost
of my father in the eye at night and say you know that leaving newspapers was a
I’m anything but an apostate the least I could do for viewers was give them an
argument about the world we live in we’re going to use drama for the same
purposes that some guys write op-ed pieces or editorials if it works it
might just be more interesting that dramas about whether they catch the bad
guy or it might suck but at least it was ambitious in its intent it’s Baltimore
gentlemen the gods will not save you we kind of wanted to have an argument about
where we were going and what the stakes were what it seemed like they were in
our post-industrial city of Baltimore now if we only write something that
makes you think about Baltimore it’s problematic so we were trying to be
specific to what we knew and what we were very familiar with but also write
to what seemed to be the condition of Western democracy I think we’re just
using Baltimore in an allegorical way the vast majority of Americans live in a
metropolitan area and we are in urban people I think the institutions were
depicting people can recognize as being very similar to the institutions and
problems of their own city the city to me is basically the only possible
vehicle that we have to measure human achievement how do we all live together
and how do we get a society that from one day to the next is actually
progressive we don’t get it twisted I do some dirt too but I ain’t never put my
gun on nobody who wasn’t in the game a man must have a code no doubt one of the
best sources of information a cop can have is a stick-up artist who’s doing
drug dealers because once you once you start sticking up drug dealers you have
to carry a gun because they’re after you so if you can catch up with them before
the dealers do then you can work out some kind of accommodation with this guy
you know before the judge this guy can go to work for you so I
used to hunt down these guys quite a bit because they were always willing to talk
so I knew a lot of them and when David and I were creating the character we
know we want to make this one this character the one guy who stood up
against the institutions and eventually I learned that I had to move away from
the singular point of view of the cops because it’s very easy when you’re a
reporter in the beginning to embrace who’s giving you information you know it
was much more accessible to go to the Western District and have their version
of events than to go to the 1400 block of
Carrollton and talk to the neighbors who you know didn’t trust the Baltimore Sun
to begin with I mean just a predominately black city and most of the
crime was rooted in the in the black community and so I’m a white guy who
grew up in the suburbs but you know there’s an awful lot you can accomplish
by just coming back and showing up is a little bit of the battle and then being
willing to ask a stupid question in journalism of course you have to quote
people accurately when people have verbal idiosyncrasies your job is not to
clean those up you’re almost being clinical about how people talk to be
fair to the material that was good training for developing an ear my
ability to meet people on their own terms and gather not only facts but
voices mood character and spirit that comes out of reporting the wire made the
argument from its first season that the modern world is becoming increasingly
indifferent to individual catharsis and individual dignity and human beings are
worth less I come from a city where 47% of the african-american males are out of
work they’re not needed we’ve constructed an economic model that
doesn’t need a lot of human beings it doesn’t need as many as it once did
for certain people to attain wealth the idea that these massive institutions
school systems and police departments and drug trades and political entities
and newspapers might actually become utterly unfeeling to the people they’re
supposed to serve and the people who serve them seems to me to be the
paradigm of the 20th century and I think it’s going to continue but there ain’t
nothing you fear more than a bad headline you’d rather live in and let
the world see you work a shovel the drama that I reread before I started the
wire was not Shakespeare it wasn’t check off and it wasn’t O’Neill it wasn’t all
the stuff that is rooted in the struggle of the individual against himself the
stuff that spoke to me is the Greek trauma in which faded and doun
protagonists are confronted by a system that is indifferent to their heroism to
their individuality and to their morality but instead of Olympian gods
that are throwing lightning bolts and people up for the fun of it we have
postmodern institutions the police department is the God the drug trade is
the God the school system is the God city hall is the God the election is the
God capitalism is the ultimate God in the wire capitalism is Zeus how do you
get to be the king and ain’t like that see the King state a king a year ago a
magazine asked if I’d offer up a brief something on a book that influenced me
that changed the way I thought to the way I wrote or why I wrote at all I
didn’t hesitate James oh geez let us now praise famous men a book so
devoted to his humanist arguments that his pages made me both proud and ashamed
to be a journalist in the same instant a Gees classic is one of the most intimate
studies of American poverty ever attempted and at the point of
publication the author was somewhat aghast at the delicacy of the lives in
the balance the possible affront to the essential dignity of the broke and
desperate world that he and Walker Evans had captured in prose and photograph
true the wire was fiction and true to it was operating in the medium of American
television which is premise on entertainment above all but concede at
least that the problems depicted in the wire are an actual dynamic in places
like West Baltimore where people are marginalized and destroyed as a systemic
function a writer who had used such a world solely as entertainment or who
thinks entertainment alone justifies such use
he needs to soak in famous men for at least a few chapters if I could do it a
G declares I do know writing at all here it would be photographs the rest would
be fragments of cloth bits of cotton lumps of Earth records of speech pieces
of wood and iron files of odors plates of food and of excrement booksellers
would consider it quite a novelty critics would murmur yes but is it art
and I could trust the majority of you to use it as you would a parlor game is the
wire art who but a professional critic gives a rat’s ass is it a parlor game
exactly so with Omar as the big winner I don’t think the wire has all the right
answers it may not even ask the right questions we thought some prolonged
arguments about what kind of country we’ve built might be a good thing and if
such arguments and discussions ever happen we will feel more vindicated in
purpose then if somebody makes an argument for why the wire is the best TV
show in years hey everyone thanks for watching if
you’re an aspiring screenwriter I have a youtube channel just for you so my
friend Tyler Mari has a YouTube channel where he talks about the fundamentals of
screenwriting he talks about things like story structure character developments
and character arcs and how to create conflict basically everything you need
to know to begin writing your screenplay I’ve been writing for a while now but
I’ve learned a lot from this resource so I will have a link in the description
down below for it I definitely recommend it as always if you have any
recommendations for videos for me to make from your favorite TV shows or
movies just comment it down below and I will read them and I’ll add it to the
list I’ll see you guys next week as we take another look behind the curtain

100 thoughts on “The Wire is Deeper Than You Think

  1. 3:00 or as we've been recently made aware, the opposite problem can come into play: the felt need to "wrap it up" to reach the predetermined conclusion in as few episodes as possible, regardless how little sense it makes to the story or any of its characters, because the showrunners are in a hurry to be somewhere else.

  2. Best. Show. Ever.
    Or if not "best" (because how does one measure that, anyway?), absolutely the most important. Should be required viewing in sociology. It's not a documentary, but it's a document.
    I just came from another YouTube video about The Wire – is there a reason it's getting renewed interest right about now? What steered you towards it?

  3. The Wire is an awesome show. just finished re-watching the whole series. Anyone have suggestions on similar quality shows I can watch/binge?

  4. The wire is by far my favorite show. I love breaking bad I love the sopranos. The wire to me is that show that had balls but didn't placate to audiences. You had to wonder if your favorite character would bite it. It didn't matter if you were a cop drug dealer or stick up man you could get it. At the same time people were real. I'm glad you did this episode. Thank you always love seeing good shows get recognised after they are if they air for years. So far you've done quite a few

  5. Yo anyone else forced to sit thru some ad featuring Aayron Sorkin? That sucked…Sorkin is the Anti David Simon, he's the worst and needs all that smug kicked out of him poste haste

  6. That's deep and the realistic shit I ever heard from a white man..black people aren't needed in this country, smh

  7. I have watched all the seasons of the Wire 5-6 times in the last 8 years. No one is safe in the drama show. It's Brilliant. Only gripe, season 2 (the ports of Baltimore) is the weakest of all the seasons.

  8. If “people are marginalized and destroyed as a matter of systemic function” as stated at 10:45 then that system is Governance by the Democrat Party and the welfare state.

  9. "with Omar as the big winner" ?? Disagree completely. The only winners are the institutions. Some characters come on top sure, but they aren't winners – they just take advantage of an ever-evolving and ever-growing set of circumstances.

  10. I care about every character even characters I should despise, but it's so well written and acted it's hard not to get drawn in and invested.

  11. I wonder if someone who's never lived in America can get as much out of The Wire as someone like me. I feel like it won't connect as hard, but I couldn't say for sure. I feel that it's just so grounded in the American experience.

  12. I haven’t watched season 4 and 5 yet but does season 2 tie into it at all? It seemed rather random between S1 and S3

  13. The Wire is enormously underrated but I definitely rank it up there with some of my favorite television shows of all time like Boardwalk Empire, Breaking Bad, and The Sopranos. I watched and did an depth written review/analysis on all five seasons on my Facebook page when I first purchased the series re-mastered on Blu-ray back in 2017 and I fell in love with it from start to finish. It's an interesting character study and social commentary about the parallels we face on many issues especially the failed Drug War, our education system, politics and big government etc. Omar's definitely my favorite character in the show fantastic portrayal by Michael Williams all around of course there's McNulty and Bunk which play off well together along with Clay Davis and his famous phrase throughout the series "Sheeeit"and I can't leave out Idris Elba out either as the infamous Stringer Bell. There's SO MANY fantastic characters in this series but, it's definitely an eye-opener and is not so black-white between good guys versus bad guys like typical cop/detective shows such as Law and Order or CSI it's thought provoking as we see a lot of insight into the perspectives of a drug dealer, cop, the addict that most series creator don't invest that much time into. I cannot praise it enough great piece of television in the last decade or so all around. Have you checked out another show called The Deuce? It's a great series and kind of has a vibe similar to The Wire although it is its own animal tackling on a different subject matter entirely worth checking out though for sure.

  14. Hey man! I really love the kind of insights you gather and share about shows/movies from the creators themselves. I just wanted to know, how open are you to exploring international shows/movies (creations from outside of the USA) (As in, for instance, I'd love to know efforts behind S.Korean movies like Madeo and The Chaser). I ask about international creations because I'm very curious about why Waltz With Bashir, a war & disaster movie, was narrated in an animated format. That movie is one of my top 5 favourites but I could never understand why narrate it using animation and not live action. I understand the hallucination sequence of the protagonist imagining a fairy-like woman giving comfort may or may not have looked that impressive in live action. But the rest of the sequences could have been live action is what I personally feel and I could be wrong. Anyways, as a sign off, let me tell you, your way of exploring and sharing screen writing and, most importantly, storytelling, is damn bloody great! Keep it up. Waiting for your next upload

  15. There's a posting out there somewhere that covers this better but, in a nutshell, it says that the reason The Wire (and to be fair, the first 5 or 6 seasons of Game of Thrones) was so enthralling was because it was "sociological" television and storytelling vs "psychological" storytelling….(or whatever the fuck the showrunners were attempting with GoT towards the end.)
    Because The Wire kept that concept running through all 5 seasons is the reason it's STILL rightfully considered one of the most brilliant television shows ever done. When you make your show about ideas and issues that real people face everyday, rather than attempt to make it about the people themselves…audience members will respond.

  16. Season one had a few funky camera tricks/effects and one or two black and white flashback sequences, but bar those few, that I can remember, it had nothing false or flashy in the way of effects, just a camera pointed at whatever was on the screen.

  17. My first video of yours I'm watching and I really like the presentation and content. I'd be foolish to not subscribe. Looking forward to more greatness from you.

    PS – could you link that thumbnail? Couldn't find it anywhere. Thanks

  18. I can't even watch cop shows anymore. They are so lacking compared to The Wire. It really ruined TV for me.

  19. This is still the best television show ever made. Hands down. Breaking Bad and Deadwood are in the top 5, I'll leave the other two open to discussion.

  20. I recently watched another channel’s video about The Wire that went through how each season built upon the ones prior, in service to the overarching story. It also suggested that since the show first aired, audiences have become more accustomed to modern anthology-style shows with characters & stories independent of the season that went before (yes, yes, The Twilight Zone notwithstanding).

    With a seemingly diminished focus on who & what viewers were expecting to see after S1, perhaps this is one of the reasons that S2 is often (incorrectly, obv) regarded as less strong / compelling. Come S3, audiences had a better idea of what to expect, that the original story would be continuing while simultaneously introducing a new set of characters & plot lines.

    By doing so – by focusing each season on a new story & element of Baltimore while retaining its invested-in familiar characters & storylines – it’s like The Wire is both an anthology series and a ‘regular’ series with a standard chronological narrative.

    This combination is just one more reason why it was such a unique & important show, both for when it originally aired, and for always.

  21. Incredible vid! Ultra enjoyable! If any of you is fascinated with related videos, for sure find out more about Angel Alvarez. He's somehow new here and also actually got similar things. In case you don't see him, simply just write angel alvarez netflix (among of the entertaining things he is doing)

  22. The Wire is the best TV show of all time.

    Game of Thrones was great…. for 5 seasons. Then it turned to shit.
    Breaking Bad was great all the way through, but nowhere near as good as The Wire. Not even close.
    The Sopranos was OK but I find it to be possibly the most overrated show of all time.

  23. the only people ive met who like this show are middle class white people hahahaha, to me its unwatchable, the idea everyone eats this up like its genuine insight makes me fucking cringe. i watched this cause the thumb looked like it could explain why the depictions in it were disgustingly inaccurate but this didnt explain shit. star wars is a more accurate depiction of this lifestyle than this show for fuck sakes. nobody fucking acts or talks like they do in this show a better way of explaining it is like picaso with african masks. as wild as belly was its at least based in fucking reality, the wire was picaso's fucking soap opera

  24. Great work, as usual. If you don't mind a request, I'd love a video about Blue Velvet (or anything Lynch has written, really) =)

  25. Is The Wire art? Tolstoy said art is to be able to see the world clearly and then present without getting in the way of the presentation… The Wire does just that!

  26. Any staunch Omar fans must introduce themselves to Chalky White. I do wonder what those two particular characters might think of each other!

  27. Do a video on Oz.. Carmela from The Sopranos, Don Hector from Breaking Bad, people from Dexter, Law & Order, Billions.. the forerunner to The Sopranos in movie quality tv. And it's staffed by a literal who's who of future household names. Criminally underrated (ahem!), the writing, acting, casting and directing are all essentially flawless. Definitely in my Top 5 along with The Sopranos, BB, Boardwalk Empire and The Wire.

  28. Just watched this analysis and wanted to complement you. The Wire is truly everything the critics said it was. When it aired I didn't have cable let alone HBO but have binged it on Amazon at least 4 times, each time learning something new or seeing some detail of the construction, acting, cinematography, or even the music that is just beyond fault. I love the David Simon quotes you've used and this is the first time I've heard Ed Burns speaking so that was great too.

    The hisghest compliment I can pay to David Simon and the Wire team is that they changed my mind about the futility of the "War on Drugs", which I knew we were losing but I hadn't truly appreciated what the carnage we've inflicted on the innocent in our pursuit of punishing the guilty. They say the danger of hunting dragons is becoming one yourself. David Simon's invocation of the Greek tragedians resonates completely. Thanks for preparing this analysis piece. Cheers

  29. Fact they were not television writers is what made the show. BCS they wanted to tell the story for the purpose of telling a story not being forced to make up a story for a job or money

  30. The metaphor of placing institutions, ideologies and events as gods in a greek play is a very potent one. Great video.

  31. A war against the underclass? What horseshit. David Simon is a ultra left SJW criminal apologist… has been for a long time

  32. Baltimore was the main character, not the actors…..Thats why this show was so brilliant and in my opinion, one of the best Fictional/Authentic Tv Show in the history of television

  33. "Don't tell a story because you are sustaining a franchise."

    The movie industry for the last 10 years…

  34. The Wire is the best written show, not the best show if that makes sense. I say this because you can’t point to just one character and Not know who that character is or what he or she is about. I can’t decide if I like Marlo or Avon better because they both aren’t one sided characters. None of the characters are one sided. They all want something outside of the character they play. What other show has a dozen or so characters whose name and purpose u remember ? Kinarad and Wallace would be insignificant characters in other shows but you remember those guys here. Brilliant casting and writing.

  35. I think you ought to more clearly provide a source for each quote you're reading aloud, and to make it more clear when you're speaking as yourself (is any of it?) and when you're reading. I did enjoy what they had to say though, so thanks for collecting it

  36. Hey can you do Batman v. Superman? I want to know about Chris Terrio's process. I guess you could also do Argo but I just love BvS so much lol

  37. I believe that hundreds of years from now, people will look at the Wire as one of the greatest pieces of art of the 21st century.

  38. Ed Burns wrote the crime/cop portions. David Simon wrote the journalist portions. Which do you think was more interesting and authentic?

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