In class, Krzys presented us with a question: Does language need to be "pretty" like in Lolita for it to be literary?
I think it's safe to say that we came to the conclusion that no it does not.
Edgar said that as long as colloquialism and so-called crude language and whatnot serves a purpose, it's perfectly acceptable and can be very effective in adding depth to a character. Indeed, several authors have employed colloquial dialogue in their work, and we have accepted those novels, like Twain's Huck Finn, as literature. Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God (side note: was sooo not a fan) uses this same colloquial device, yet her novel is also filled with concentrated descriptions that are unarguably literary.
I think The Wire works in much the same way. We all agreed that the language in The Wire doesn't have to be anything other than what it is in order for it to be literary, but actually I don't think there is an absence of "traditional" literary language at all. Think about if we were transcribing what we saw in The Wire into a novel, then think about how detailed the descriptions, how dizzyingly lush and dense and, well, literary the language would be. That shot of plastic magnets on the fridge in the elderly lady's apartment (when she gives information about Gant's murder) that look like they belong with the ones on my grandmother's wasn't accidental, and had that image been a bunch of words, their product would have been an excruciatingly detailed look into the state of an appliance in an elderly woman's kitchen.
So it's not really a question of whether or not the dialogue in The Wire is literary. It's more a question of how do the images, the sounds, and other elements in a television show combine to form language that is perhaps as sophisticated as in our dear Lolita?