True Confession: I’m Just Now Watching ‘The Wire’ For The First Time » VSB

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True Confession: I’m Just Now Watching ‘The Wire’ For The First Time

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Last week while drowning in free time, I said to myself, “Self, you’re eating good, rubbing booties, and maxin’ and relaxin’ con la familia here in Virginia, where ain’t shit to do but cook (and gain weight). Why not finally give The Wire a go?” And so here we are.

I feel like I missed an important cultural moment that played out in The Wire’s five seasons. Everyone from President Obama and Eric Holder to Elijah Wood and James Van Der Beek adores this show. In conversations about the greatest shows ever, The Wire is regularly mentioned alongside masterpieces like Breaking Bad and The Cosby Show. (Editors note: Which is irresponsible. The Wire should never be mentioned with any other show. Just God. And bacon. That’s it. God and bacon.) I know people who have incorporated quotes from their favorite characters into their daily speech. I even had an old manager who used to chastise employees with Bunk’s classic inquiry, “You happy now, bitch?” A friend told me recently that she judges the worthiness of potential suitors based on their knowledge of this show. (Editor’s note: This is a good friend.) It is time to see what all of the fuss and adoration is about.

What do I know about this show? I know that it has been heralded for its stellar writing and that there is lots of cussing. These are both important. I know that some friends from Baltimore don’t like the show for its gritty depiction of the city’s drug war and institutional failures. I know that Tristan Wilds, Michael B. Jordan, Wendell Pierce, and J.D. Williams (who I first encountered as Kenny “Bricks” Wrangler, the Ma$e to Simon Adebisi’s Puff Daddy on HBO’s Oz) all inhabited The Wire’s television universe.

I also know that there are at least two gay characters, Sonja Sohn’s “Kima Greggs” and Michael K Williams’ “Omar Little.” After years of tripping over Wire-themed think pieces, I gather that there is some division on the mere inclusion of lesbian and gay characters while others have taken issue with Omar being the Robin Hood of stick-up men, robbing drug dealers to provide for the needy.

I, however, applaud both the flawed and the “respectable” traits that make these people feel real. Black gay characters onscreen typically exist as two-dimensional accessories for their straight counterparts, speaking in quotable insults without much development. So, I jump at the chance to watch these prominent players, Kima and Omar, be funny, lovable, immoral and evil because a fleshed-out personality is not a form of humanity often afforded to Black LGBTQ characters.

I am three episodes in. Until now, I had never seen more than three minutes of the series. I expect to love it. The dialogue is live as shit and it only took 20 minutes for me to “get it,” unlike with AMC’s ode to whiteness, Mad Men, which I cared even less about after fighting through the first three episodes.

I am excited about discussing this important show with friends who’ve spoken of its glory. I look forward to seeing young, great-faced Idris McDreampop continue to grow into this dreadful corner boy accent he’s attempting. (Editor’s note: People who first learned of Elba from The Wire had the same reaction hearing his real voice for the first time. It was like drinking a bottle of Coke, but tasting a milkshake instead. Ok. I think I’m done with these notes now.)

And I look forward to continuing to pretend that I didn’t own two of these horrendous D’Angelo Barksdale turtleneck sweaters.

Alex Hardy

Alexander Hardy is the dance captain for Saint Damita Jo Jackson's Royal Army. He is a writer who escaped Hampton, Virginia and is now based in Panama City, Panama. There, he runs The Colored Boy, and consumes copious amounts of chicken. He has written for EBONY.com, CNN, Gawker, and Huffington Post among other outlets. Alexander can likely be found daydreaming about his next meal or Blacking It Up on someone's dance floor. He also doesn't believe in snow or Delaware. Read more from Alex at www.thecoloredboy.com

  • I prefer Generation Kill to The Wire, but it’s from the brilliance of David Simon so I’m n and to going to argue with anyone who enjoys The Wire more. ALSO, one of the most under-discussed aspects of The Wire is the sheer volume and variety of queer characters in the show. People pretty much end at mentioning Omar is gay.

    • Muze

      aw man now i have to watch! i have too many shows to keep up with as is.

    • Generation kill was dope. The men in that unit were an interesting mix of characters.

    • NomadaNare

      What put Generation Kill on par with the Wire?

      • Epsilonicus

        I have never heard of the show

      • I prefer miniseries to tv shows in general. Moreover, it is always refreshing to see a series on the military/soldiers/war that doesn’t spend the entire time (or any in this case) heralding everything. It got pretty much everything about being stationed right. The long, long pauses of nothingness driving people insane because they’re in a environment where they can and do die at any moment. That is juxtaposed against extreme (but relatively brief) bouts of killing and death. You get to see how different people adjust emotionally and mentally and see how fucked up chain of command can be and how inarticulate and vague so much of warfare actually is in the 21st century.

  • BreezyX2

    I kid you not, I was just told to watch this series!! But was advised to start at season 4. Mind you I attempted to watch The Wire 2 years ago and couldn’t make it pass the first 30 minutes because of the cussing. I dunno Alex, how about you start a weekly recap of the show and sprinkle in your well timed humor so I can appreciate this supposed American classic.

    • That sounds like a winner.

      • BreezyX2

        Do it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • Lea Thrace

        Yes Do IT. I havent seen it and really dont have the energy to devote to try to watch. But I would read an Alex Hardy recap!

    • I haven’t watched the series, either. I’ve only seen clips and I should have been jumped in after seeing a kid call someone a “cheese face b**ch.” How about we make a go at it in the form of livetweeting with a #LateToTheWire hashtag?

      • BreezyX2

        Hey Gurllllll: I am not on Le Twet but I am willing to give it a go. Just say when and we can chat about it here :)

      • LMFAO.
        that would be hilarious. i think it would do well and people would jump on it!

      • This is a great idea.

    • miss kate

      Don’t start with season 4! Start with 1. Season 2 is skippable if you HAVE to, but 1 sets the stage for everything that follows.

      • EVERYONE booboos on season 2. Zamn.

        • miss kate

          It’s basically an extended digression–like a long-arse “But What About The White People?!” Very Special Episode.

          That said, it’s probably still better than just about anything else…

          • Epsilonicus

            “It’s basically an extended digression–like a long-arse “But What About The White People?!” Very Special Episode”

            As someone from Baltimore, that digression is important. I think season 2 only makes sense if you are from here and know the history.

            • Val

              I think it speaks to what happened to a lot of working class Whites in industrial states. And, I liked that it showed that despite popular belief that White folks are and have been deeply mixed up in the urban drug trade.

              • Epsilonicus

                And in Baltimore, the ports are super important yet no one ever thinks of them. So much trade flows in and out of the ports.

                And folks also forget that Baltimore was majority White until the late 70s. And The Wire is an amalgamation of stories from 70s, 80s, 90s, and 00s.

                • Val

                  Are the ports there still struggling or are they doing better now?

                  • Epsilonicus

                    The issue is automation. Folks are losing jobs to machines.

            • Being that my dad lives in the area, and I spent my HS days around blue collar Whites, it sounds like I could appreciate it.

        • Val

          You’ll come to appreciate season 2. I did.

          • I liked season two. It showed that the issues (criminal and political) are bigger than the hood but ultimately was helping cause strife there.

            • It gets really one note about the plight of the white blue collar worker. Doesn’t add many layers.

              • The other show that I think handled blue collar white folks well was Roseanne.

                • KKay

                  I honestly had more in common with Rosanne than I had with any other television show. (The early years – the later years started to suck)

                  The episode when the lights got clicked off cuz they couldn’t afford to pay them. I lived that!

                • Val

                  How about The Middle.

                  • KKay

                    Yeah, The Middle is pretty good to me too.

            • Epsilonicus

              The season makes sense if you are from Baltimore.

              • I live in a town with a bustling port. It made a lot of sense to me.

        • BECAUSE ITS TURRBO.

        • Epsilonicus

          It is necessary though. It helps set up season 3. That port life is also so foreign to people but so important to the city and story.

        • tigger500

          Season 2 is essential. The show doesn’t work without it.

        • PhlyyPhree

          You really have to watch the entire show and THEN go back and rewatch season 2 to appreciate it. It starts so randomly and you don’t understand why, but once you finish the series, it will all make sense

      • Tx10inch

        Season 4 is everything!

      • BreezyX2

        Ok, do 1 skip 2 do 3 – the end…got it :)

        • BBB Pam Northman

          Noooooo… to echo everyone else, ride it out with season 2. You got to do Season 1 first otherwise you won’t know who is who and what. Season 2 feels really random and out of place but everything from it all falls into place and interconnects in the subsequent seasons.

          • BreezyX2

            Ok I shall :)

    • Me!

      I started the series by watching Season 4 on demand before the 5th season began. After season 5, i went back to watch 1-3. All of the seasons were great, but I could never get through an episode until season 4.

  • Muze

    this is great. partly because i have just begun watching the series for the second time. we’re four episodes in. the boyfriend has never seen it and it took me three years to get him to watch, but now he’s hooked.

    i’m basically coming to the same conclusions i did the first time i marathon watched: Idris is so fine (Damon is right, i almost choked on my soda hearing Idris’ real accent for the first time). Omar is still my fav. so badass. and i heart McNulty, Wallace and Bodie. oh, and i hope Bubbles is okay.

    i said the other day, it’s like seeing old friends, i want them to come back so i can find out how they’re doing, what they’re up to. lol.

    long live Le Wire!

    • Mrs. Iced Tee

      I have to credit Muze for making me sit down and watch this amazing show! Changed my life. Well, not really, but definitely awesome. A week well spent!

      • Medium Meech

        Is that a picture of you watching the wire? If so I can narrow down which episode you’re watching to 3 based on the facial expression alone.

        • tgtaggie

          I just want to see more pictures….lol.

      • Neptunes presents The Clones

        Tasty

      • Muze

        dude i had no idea this was you. lmaoo. i was like “who is this person crediting me for watching the wire?” hahahaa

    • The funny thing about Stringer Bell’s accent is that it would slip out during the first season. Bubbles was my dude too.

      • Bubbles was probably one of the best characters on that show. And they had so many.

      • Val

        McNulty’s accent too.

    • i love mcnulty.

  • h.h.h.

    never watched it either.
    i’ll try to watch it by 2030.

    • I just wanted you to know that I downvoted you.

    • Lea Thrace

      We are eye to eye mister triple h.

      ETA: And I upvoted to counter act the downvoting haters.

      • DON’T MAKE ME QUIT YOU.

        • Val

          Did you get my challenge?

          • up/downthread? what challenge?

            • Val

              On tumblr.

              • i had all my notifications off lol. I wonder how many people have tagged me in the past that i missed lol

        • Lea Thrace

          I feel about the Wire as @disqus_QGKOTi1oX5:disqus feels about Mad Men. *ye shrugs*

        • Lea Thrace

          I’m also a Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Walking Dead hater for the same reasons.

          I was born a hater, I am proud to be a hater, I will die a hater.

          • Epsilonicus

            How can you hate Breaking Bad? Have you seen it?

            • Lea Thrace

              Nope. Do clips counts?

              I’m a sight unseen kind of hater.

              • Epsilonicus

                You should watch it. It is hilarious

          • Barbie

            I watched a whole season of Breaking Bad and hated it. I kept waiting to love it didn’t happen. I also do not like Game of Thrones.

    • LadyIbaka

      Idris Elba, the love of my life is in it, and I HATE that show. I just can’t….I’ve tried though.

      • AlwaysCC

        idris doesn’t really do it for me, but do you watch luther? i REALLY like idris in that series.

    • AlwaysCC

      i’ve never watched it. i don’t wanna watch it. and when my husband refers to it, i like to compare it to random situations from shows like murder, she wrote or matlock.

    • cynicaloptmst81

      I know it’s been 6 days since you posted this, but I just wanted you to know, my dear homie, that I’ve never watched The Wire either.
      I live here. So, watching the show just seemed redundant. Maybe one day…
      I did watch and LOVE The Corner…although it drained me. My dad was still in the grips of addiction then. And maybe that was all I had for “this”…

  • Andrea

    I never watched it either. But now I’m glad I waited. I feel like I need to binge watch a show to get some idea if I like it. eg. Now I like Game of Thrones. Didn’t’ see that coming. Maybe I will finally “get” Idris Elba. I’m so worn out from my recent Suits marathon, 24, House of Cards, Orange is black. I’m gonna save myself for a few more months. BTW Jessica’s wardrobe department really killed Ms. Pope’s. Battle of Prada bags. Jessica attacked and defeated.

    • Sheila Hylton DeToro-Forlenza

      Andrea, I am deep into a Suits binge (Mid Season 3 now). I drool every time I see Jessica Pearson. I just stare at everything about her. Olivia Pope doesn’t have a candle to hold to her.

      • Andrea

        Jessica’s clothes, shoes, bags….it really is fashion p0rn

      • Wild Cougar

        What is suits about?

        • AlwaysCC

          it’s about a law firm (hence, suits) – gina torres (jessica) runs the show. harvey (her second in command) is a douche with a heart (if that’s possible), and the associate (mike) is a genius who never actually graduated from law school but is practicing at the firm. his hustle used to be taking the LSATs for other people to get them into law school…

          olivia pope and her warriors can’t TOUCH jessica and her people.

    • Gina Torres (Jessica Hardeman) does not get her props for the killer work she’s done/is doing on this show. She’s the HCIC (Head Chick in Charge) and slays WEEKLY….both with her fashion and her legal acumen. I’ve been a fan from the beginning. Random, but I also loved her quick appearance on Hannibal….especially since she was working with her hubs

      • Andrea

        I agree. Not to keep comparing her to Kerry. But the idea of the characters is clearly similar. I do think Gina is the better actress. And you gotta appreciate her character isn’t having an affair with anyone. Unfortunately I don’t think she is about to get any nominations.

        • Kerry’s acting is pretty much big eyes + lip quiver + lingerie/naked/chex scenes.

          • Val

            Lol. I wonder if there is anyone who thinks Kerry can act?

            • Act well? Not I, said the cat.

            • tgtaggie

              Well…she does better than Beyonce. *Kanye shrug*

          • YUP.

          • NomadaNare

            That quiver though…

            • Val

              Those lips though. Oh my.

        • tgtaggie

          I think Jessica Pearson’s tolerance for bs is way lower than Olivia. eg. see the mess she puts up from Fitz

          • Olivia Pope is a fiction, even in her own fictional life. What does she ACTUALLY handle? hmph.

      • GINA TORRES IS THE WOMAN.

    • tgtaggie

      As a dude, I would rank the wardrobes like this:

      1. Claire Underwood
      2. Jessica Pearson
      3. Olivia Pope

      • Epsilonicus

        Claire Underwood can get it too.

        • tgtaggie

          She is one bad white chick. If you look up a definition of ride or die chick Claire Underwood would used as a example.

          • Epsilonicus

            Claire the type to cap someone without you even having to tell her.

            • tgtaggie

              Her and Frank really complement each other. I know their horrible ppl but you want to see how far they can get. A couple of examples:
              1. You saw how she ethered that pregnant chick.
              2. She set up the pres and his wife with the pastor and used the information against them.
              3. She made the artist dude look like a fool

              • Val

                And, she apparently doesn’t mind that Frank is gay.

                • Epsilonicus

                  He aint gay. He is bi.

                  • Val

                    Nah, he only sleeps with women to use them.

              • Sigma_Since 93

                Don’t forget the young girl in the military that came forward about the assault and how she went in on her old security detail………… #coldblooded

              • KKay

                “She make the artist dude look like a fool.”

                And she kinda, sorta liked him.

                • Sigma_Since 93

                  Until he served no value.

                  • KKay

                    Right!

        • NomadaNare

          Strictly on the strength of her wardrobe.

          • Epsilonicus

            She knows how to make herself look good

      • Val

        I’m going to add Joan from Girlfriends.

  • When Idris came into the frame in that jogging suit, I got all types of verklempt.

    • BreezyX2

      See but what you can’t do Alex Hardy is drop these little tid bits BEFORE I start watching. Amma need you to set the stage and do a full recap of sorts per episode which includes these sizzling details…mmmkay! Thanks :)

  • Val

    Oh my, I remember when I was a Wire virgin. Sigh. Oh, the memories. *Thinks of Kima* Just keep in mind, Alex, no matter how many times you watch The Wire in the future, and you will watch it in the future, it’s never going to be like your first time. Savor every moment! Especially seasons 3 and 4.

    • sank ya,

    • Neptunes presents The Clones

      You were a virgin,dang

      • Val

        Rude.

  • Tosin Otitoju

    Ah, so Elba’s in The Wire…I keep wondering who this famous Idris Elba dude is, like what’s he famous for? So famous my favourite Nigerian English language rap artiste (ok, one of my fave anythings lol) said sth about him yet his face is so unfamiliar.

    • Luther and sometimes in April are his only other noteworthy works as far as actual acting goes.

      • Val

        I watched season 1 of Luther and it was just okay.

        • Sigma_Since 93

          I’m Sigma_Since 93 and I’ve just downvoted you..

          #theliesyoutell

          • Val

            Lol.

      • Nandie

        I am not an Idris stan (gasp), but I really loved him in Sometimes in April. He even managed to nail that Rwandan accent!

  • Brad G

    My previous girlfriend brought me The Wire for Christmas last year. While we may no longer be together, she will always hold a special place in my heart (next to Flamin’ Hot Fritos and Grant Hill) for this wonderful gift.

  • jolly

    I’m #latetothewire too, but happy I saved it up. LOL @ AMC’s “ode to whiteness” Mad Men. Good show.

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