I don’t like to watch a lot of TV. This doesn’t mean I’m sort of closeted Luddite, reading books all day by candlelight. I watch an inordinate number of movies (I’m on Netflix’s list of the most undesirable customers ever). It’s a habit from pre-Tivo days where I would resent the notion that a television program would command me to watch at a given time or a certain time. And if you had to videotape it, then it had better be good. So, I’m very selective about what I watch, usually watching anywhere from two to three hours of TV a week (News doesn’t count).
But I digress — this selectiveness means that I have a pretty short attention span for shows that suck. Or are mediocre. Or just okay. Or kinda good. They have to be uber-good.
I’ve been a fan of The Sopranos for a while, but I have to say, HBO topped themselves with The Wire. So awesome. Period.
As a matter of course, I don’t like to watch lawyer shows. Yes, I am one. I especially don’t like to watch criminal law shows, because they usually suck up to the fascist tendencies of DA-lovers everywhere. Yeah, I practiced criminal defense. I was a proud public defender for about eight years of my life and by far, it is the best job ever. But even with some semi-defense friendly shows, like The Practice, it was really unbelievable, using the fantastic and the sensationalistic to make its point (can they win like every case?). And it became pretty pro-prosecution after a while. I didn’t want a show that was fawning over the defense (and that’s not equatable with criminal love, love for the darkside, a desire for the end of western civilization, etcetera you suburban colloborator alarmist, it’s just an acknowledgement that one side isn’t always right ALL THE GAWDAMN time).
I wanted a show with veracity. The DA shows didn’t have it. The cops-are-evil-all-the-time shows lost sight of it at times, getting mired in histrionics. I wanted a show where I could watch for like an hour and not say, “That’s not right! That’s a LIE! It’s just wrong. THAT’S NOT HOW IT IS?!?!?”
I mean one of the reasons why I chose to be a public defender was to get immersed in a gritty world that I wouldn’t normally be a part of — and I wanted that to be conveyed realistically.
The Wire is the first and only show to do it. Granted, the show takes place in Baltimore and I practiced in Los Angeles, but never ever did I question the procedure, the portrayals, and the gawdamn veracity of this fictional show. Amazing. If they had The Wire on while I was in law school, I think I would have all five seasons of it and not gone into criminal law at all.
It’s even handed, making a case as to how institutions can crush the individual, whether it be a drug cartetl, police department, judicial system, school, or city hall. And it should be pointed out that the show portrays criminal defense attorneys in a very very bad light — scumsucking avaricious fucks. But it was done with such acuity that I couldn’t touch it nor complain about it. There are others who I used to work with that have watched The Wire and they are smitten by it like I am.
So if you want to watch ONE crime procedural, it’s The Wire.
The best show out on TV EVER. EVER.
I used to think that Lost would change broadcast TV and it still can, but I’m telling you, Cable (specifically HBO) is where it’s at. Cable is the gated community of television.
That’s right, I said it.
The Wire just concluded it’s final and last episode ever. And man oh man, was it worth it. I feel sort of sad knowing that there will be no upcoming espisodes. But I do want to spread the gospel of The Wire — the best way to watch it is on DVD, three episodes at a time. Seriously. Do it and you’ll thank me. Otherwise, you can go suck on an egg.