An oral history of the acclaimed HBO police drama.
After a five-year run, The Wire ended in 2008. Other than two Emmy nominations for writing, the show never garnered much critical acclaim. In this detailed history of the show, Bleacher Report contributor Abrams (Boys Among Men: How the Prep-to-Pro Generation Redefined the NBA and Sparked a Basketball Revolution, 2016, etc.) writes that the series “is now celebrated as one of the greatest television shows ever made.” Producers, writers, directors, and actors speak for themselves via the many interviews the author conducted. Along the way, Abrams includes commentary and behind-the-scenes reflections. There never would have been a show if not for David Simon, a former Baltimore Sun police reporter whose two nonfiction books, Homicide (1991) and The Corner (1997), covered the topics that The Wire would explore. Simon had worked with network TV before, but he felt HBO would be the best place for his edgy tale about Baltimore police officers and drug dealers that would focus on a wiretapping sting operation. Chris Albrecht, the CEO of the network, agreed: “We were trying to distinguish ourselves from what else was on television.” Simon worked with co-creator Ed Burns to put together a mostly black, little-known ensemble of actors. The Wire’s story was complex and slow-burning; like reading a novel, it “allowed its audience space to interpret”—and pay attention. As Detective Lester Freamon (Clarke Peters) said in the first season, “all the pieces matter.” The creators drew on some of the best directors and writers, and Simon always gave detective novelist George Pelecanos “the penultimate episode of the season” in which “people got killed.” Richard Price “really dug the characters,” and novelist Dennis Lehane felt the show changed TV: it “pushed its borders a little further than where they’d previously been positioned.”
Filled with revealing information from the participants, intriguing tidbits, and show trivia, this compendium will have fans scurrying back to their DVD sets.