Monday, April 13, 2009

What, we don't have enough love in our hearts for two wars?

I agree with Kevin re: all four of his points.  The plot is almost too complex for me now (I have to be completely and entirely engaged while watching, unlike a lot of television) and I am only about halfway through the season.  I do think it's literature, valuable literature at that, and I think its total and complete fulfillment of #4 plays a big role in that..

But I don't know, critics had a lot of love for the Wire (my impossibly pretentious, 'culturally relevant' yet incredibly sincere best friend was constantly watching this throughout high school)  but I don't think it had a lot of Nielsen success.  It was on HBO, thus, not as accessible, and, while smart and well-written, gritty. A little terrifying, even.  Slate put it in its own genre, calling it an "urban procedural."

One of the lines in the first episode really stood out to me, and this really hits Kevin's #2 in terms of meaningful dialogue.  Episode one, at 44:03 at the Baltimore FBI office after hearing that narcotics cases will no longer be investigated because the 'war on terror' is a primary focus: "What, we don't have enough love in our hearts for two wars?"  

Maybe we as viewers don't have enough love in our hearts for two wars.  Maybe we are comfortable with Gossip Girl and Arrested Development reruns* - shows that are easy and don't leave us drained and upset, shows that don't ruin our evenings or disturb our perfect (or not-so-perfect) lives, shows that don't stir us to action.  It's hard for me to watch the Wire because I feel like I should be doing something more for the community my family lives in right now (downtown Atlanta) that, like Baltimore, has this murky underbelly of violence and drugs and disadvantaged families and the resulting vicious cycle.  Most inner cities have this side, just as most high schools have a glossy, fun, prom-and-football game side, so it makes sense that The Wire, like Laguna Beach, should enjoy its own show.  I just think we as viewers have a responsibility after seeing this presented so realistically, and a lot of people don't want to deal with that.  And maybe that's why The Wire isn't more successful, Nielsen-wise.

*disclaimer: I love AD.  just saying.

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