Josh Bowman writes about many of the lessons he has learned from watching David Simon’s masterpiece, The Wire.
Note: I know the show is long done, but I recently re-watched the series, and I’ve been thinking about how great it is. So here are my thoughts.
- Institutions like the police department, prison system, schools, government, and media will never work properly because people are not robots. For every police officer/politician/jail guard/teacher/reporter who spends time in their community, cares about their work, and acts in a legal and responsible manner, there is another who is corrupt, or prone to anger, or lazy.
- When you use terms like “systemic racism”, you are not just talking about one group of people being unfairly targeted by the police (although that is part of it). You are referring to a system that subtly but actively oppresses a group of people through a cycle of poverty, drug trafficking, arrests, disenfranchisement, a lack of opportunities, a lack of available healthy food options, broken schools, and group homes. Everything is tied together, everything works in a system that is nearly impossible to escape.
- Drinking and driving is a horrible idea.
- There are urban centres all over the world just like Baltimore repeating the same cyclical stories of crime, poverty, drug use, and corruption. There are ways to address the root causes, but there is no political will to do so.
- Character development is critical. The Wire is amazing because of Bunk, McNulty, Omar, Stringer Bell, Bubbles, Kima, Valchek, and all of the other nuanced characters it introduced. It really is one of the greatest shows on television. I really like it, you guys.
- Drug dealing is seen as glamorous, despite the inherent risks and danger involved, the low salaries, and the high rate of incarceration. If you haven’t seen Steven Levitt’s Ted Talk on the economics of crack dealing, watch it.
- One good way to avoid bad habits is to stay away from friends who enable those bad habits. I’m looking at you, Jimmy.
- People will surprise you. A hump who sits at his desk painting model furniture all day might be the best police officer on the force. A former cold-blooded gangster might turn his life around and help kids.
- Indeed. Sheeeeeeeeet. What the fuck did I do? Ain’t nothin’ like a catchphrase.
- The Wire worked because David Simon was thorough, passionate, and committed to it working. He had a vision that he executed brilliantly. More people might know about Two and a Half Men, but more people care about The Wire.