The Wire – Real Life Drama in Fictional Portions
There are many shows that have stood the test of time over the years. Classic programs like Seinfeld and Friends kept audiences and coming back for more season after entertaining season. Shows like Law & Order or CSI: Crime Scene Investigation have almost cult like followings, people who tune in every week without fail to catch the newest episode of their favorite long lasting series. A show like The Simpsons that has been on the air for almost two decades is obviously a fan favorite and can safely be labeled one of the most successful shows of all time, simply by looking at its staying power on network TV. But there are shows that, for one reason or another, get canceled after only a few seasons. Some of the plug on some of these shows is pulled simply because they are not attracting enough viewers to keep them around; but other, seemingly popular shows, to the distress of their fans, have been yanked off the air without much warning as well. HBO’s The Wire is a prime example of this type of programming that seemed to have success while being produced, but was cancelled after only a handful of seasons.
Being broadcast on HBO, The Wire was available to plenty of people in plenty of homes across America: the show was available on any sort of basic cable or high definition, satellite TV package. The show revolves around the urban drug and crime scene that has taken a stranglehold on one of America’s most well known cities, Baltimore, MD. With characters changing every season (and sometimes, every episode) one reason the show may have been cancelled was the lack of consistency among its most popular players. However, this was not due to poor planning or a lack of foresight by the show’s slew of writers. The fact is, in The Wire, characters are part of an increasingly violent drug trade and therefore many of them are killed throughout the span of a season. This is what gave the show so much power, and what made it so popular: it did not play into the standards of television by having everything work out and having all the problems be resolved by the end of each 60 minute episode. Rather, problems persisted and people got killed along the way, just as occurs in real life.
There are other sides of of the city and its urban life that the show tries to explore as well. In direct contrast to the street crime and drug trafficking that is no doubt the main story line of The Wire, the writers and producers also made a conscious effort to show the other side of that story, and profile people who have been part of the drug game and are now resolved to living a life pure of such evils. One such character, Dennis Wise (known by everybody simply as “Cutty”) starts a gym in an effort to attract kids off of the drug corners and into sports and physical fitness. His story line carries through a few seasons, as he is released from prison and does his part to reverse the trend of so many young kids getting into violence, drugs, and eventually, trouble with the law.
While the show takes time to showcase both sides of the drug trade – the lavish, rich side of successful drug dealers who have diamond studded jewelry, cars, and HD TVs as well as the reformed ex-convicts trying to do good in a community full of bad – it ultimately could not stand the test of time being pulled after only five seasons. A show like The Wire is an example of how a popular shows can sometimes still be cancelled due to outside influences and under the table discussions.