It seems like people have the language and realism aspect covered, so I’m just going to talk about one of my favorite scenes in the show. I think it was episode 8. One of the boys Wallace lives with and supports comes into his room asking for math help. It was one of those simple addition and subtraction word problems, but even after Wallace explaining the concept he cannot grasp it. Then, Wallace asks him a similar question using drug dealing as the example, and the boy has no trouble answering with the correct count. Wallace asks why he is able to get that right but cannot answer a simple book question, to which the boy answers, “count be wrong they’ll fuck you up.”
This one sentence, with its crude language, summarizes the lives of these kids. Their lives revolve around the hierarchy of drug dealing. This boy isn’t even old enough to be a dealer yet, but he already knows the ropes. School is not relevant to him because his life path, at least in his mind, has already been determined. He is going to become a dealer, and being loyal to the chain of command will be a matter of life or death.
I love that The Wire gives the audience so much information with little details such as one sentence or even one variation of a word. (Clint mentioned the scene in which all they said was a variation of the word “fuck.”) The sad reality of these children who are raised in the drug world is expressed clearly here—they don’t feel the opportunity to rise out of their fate, and therefore resign to it from a young age. I guess the fact that The Wire doesn’t skim on the details is one of the reasons why it’s so good.