My Five Favorite Characters From “The Wire”

Hello, everyone. My name is Damon Young (aka “The Champ”), and I am the biggest fan of “The Wire” you’ll ever meet. Actually, let me rephrase that. Because “The Wire” is the best thing that’s ever happened, well, on Earth — yes, it’s better than bacon, democracy, sunsets, kittens, women who squirt, Mike Tomlin’s shape-ups, Mary Magdalene’s hugs, Aretha’s voice, NBA basketball, unlimited mimosas, the entire Renaissance, the moon, The Bluest Eye, snow days in school, the entire internet, bacon wrapped bacon, bougie Black girls, and everyone who’s ever been named “Michael” — it is likely that there are other people whose love for “The Wire” matches mine. Not surpasses, but matches.

Anyway, I’m bringing this up because today is going to be devoted to all things “The Wire,” and if you’re a person who hasn’t seen it, plans to see it but doesn’t want to get spoiled, saw it and didn’t care for it, couldn’t really care any less about it, or enjoyed “The Wire” but don’t see the need in spending an entire day discussing a f*cking TV show that ended four years ago, today is not the day for you at VSB, and I will not feel bad if you decide to u-turn when you see this paragraph. Happy motherf*cking trails.

For those of you who remain, today I’m going to attempt to do perhaps the hardest thing I’ve ever attempted to do. Narrow down and list my five favorite characters from “The Wire.” To understand how difficult this is, I’d probably have an easier time listing the top five most arrogant things God has ever done. I’m literally sweating right now, drinking a half gallon bottle of All Sport (yes, they still do make that), and I think I just stopped a nosebleed.

So, before my body breaks completely down, I should just go ahead with the list.

(In reverse order)

5. Francis “Frank” Sobotka

Like most other fans of “The Wire,” season two’s shift in focus from the streets to the ports initially caused a prevailing sense of “Wait. What the f*ck is this?”-ness that was more due to my own expectations than the quality of the season itself. When I watched it for the second time, I began to appreciate how this season turned “The Wire” from a show about cops and robbers to a sobering, deconstructionist take on the drug war and the city of Baltimore. Basically, in season two, the “The Wire” got real.

At the heart of all of this was Frank Sobotka, a man who just wanted to provide for his family and stand for his occupation and co-workers and just got waaaaay over his head. Also, like Wallace in season one, his death further pushed one of the prevailing themes of “The Wire” — that there was really no place in the game — and, well, America, really — for good-hearted people.

4. Lester Freamon

Makes the cut because, as a person who always thinks they’re the smartest person in the room (and is usually correct), I appreciate others who also always think they’re the smartest people in the room (and are also usually correct).

Also, more superficially, Lester’s awesomeness is at least partially due to the fact that he bagged the best-looking woman to appear on any of the seasons, and he kind of reminds me of my dad.

3. Howard “Bunny” Colvin

In lieu of explaining why he’s so high on my list, I’m going to ask you all a question that Bunny Colvin would probably ask you all if he were a blogger. Let’s say drugs — all drugs — were legalized next week. Do you think more people would use them?

(My answer? No, because I don’t think the criminality of drugs is really what makes people not use them. I’d bet a week’s pay that people who’ve never done crack, smack, or meth have never done it because of the effect it would have of their bodies, not because it was illegal.)

2. Michael Lee

I’ve already spoken extensively about my love for season four of “The Wire,” so there’s no need to revisit that now. What I haven’t spoken about before, though, is the fact that the two minute long scene where Michael first meets Marlo gives me chills every time I watch it. It’s that good. In that one short clip, you see everything you need to see about Michael —  his lack of fear, his single-mindedness, his contempt for authority, the deadness in his eyes — and you’re forced to wonder what a 13 year had to have gone through to make him that hard that young.

1. Preston “Bodie” Broadus

More than any other character, Bodie represented the heart of the show — the common man who’s too powerless, too engulfed by bureaucracy and station to do anything besides maintain a small portion of the universe, a portion of the universe that he doesn’t even own. I know it seems counterintuitive to refer to a murderous drug dealer a “common man,” but Bodie was Baltimore, and his life (and eventual death) showed the futility of being principled in an environment where principles are a valueless currency.

(Honorable mentions: D’Angelo Barksdale, “Cutty” Wise, Weebay Brice, Avon Barksdale, Prop Joe, Bunk Moreland, Randy Wagstaff, Vondus, and Bill Rawls)

Anyway, people of VSB, that’s it for me today. I’m curious, though. Who were your five favorite characters from “The Wire”?

—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)