Season four is my favourite season purely because with all the other elements of previous seasons still vital to the storyline, education is introduced and central to that is the lives of a group of boys whose lives diverge dramatically throughout the school year.
The life of children in inner city schools can be brutal, that they have grown up with so much violence surrounding them, it is understandable that they see mortality as a very real thing, some not expecting to live past their mid 20’s. Added to this is the cynical way that the education system is run and how it further entwines with the themes of previous seasons, showing how the problems are systemic and can’t be fixed by anything but radical moves by those whom we elect as our officials.
As with real life, we don’t get introductions and establishing shots of these characters, finding out who they are and there motivations are about straight away. The characters names and personalities become clear after an initial confusing overload but it’s that feeling of not being spoken down to that becomes one of the most appealing factors. It’s intelligent and assumes its viewers will be too.
The show demands that you pay attention and don’t leap to snap judgements because people are complex with often hidden motivations and a sense of morality based on their own internal rules. It’s this depth of character that really impresses and often, it is a small thing that elicits a change of response from the audience to how they respond to a character.
As I mentioned previously, I’m embarking on the story – for it is all one story with a different aspect shown in each series – for the sixth time and rewatching the series makes the stories more powerful and hard-hitting in my opinion. Watching what seems now inevitable unfold has a greater impact as you watch the ascent and descent of so many character arcs. It’s a mosaic of richness that rewards over and over as newer aspects not previously considered come to light, showing the planning of scripts to be a work of majestic artistry. You can focus on the nuances that inevitably get lost on the first watch in a programme with such ambitious intricacy.
It would be remiss as a book lover not to mention the episode in which a journalist is told his work is not Dickensian enough because that is how the news needs to be, there has to be a human aspect we can sympathise with, otherwise why the readers people care? The streets of Baltimore and the characters who, through brilliant storytelling face both brutal lives but also have their comedic moments does feel very Dickens-ish, however his need to tie things up, for resolution was often furnished with a handy plot twist to sort things out. This perhaps diminishes the overall power of the message of social inequality but Dickens for all his flaws was a genius writer and The Wire will stand up to comparison of that man’s name for the 21st century.
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