Thoughts on The Fifth Season of The Wire

Fri Aug 15, 2008

I don’t know if the fatuous documentary on the final disc, starring Joe Klein and Jacob Weisberg, left an unduly bad impression; but the institutional portrait of the media in the final season was disappointing. Simon, of course, knows this estate better than the show’s other broad subjects, but the Sun as shown lacked any human variability or social depth. The sympathetic characters were consistently so, the others irredeemable fools. How many times did the executive editor have to describe something as “Dickensian” before we get the point? The fabricator too was devoid of interest, and his fabrications were thin fare (esp. compared to, Glass’s, for instance). A wasted opportunity to write his character as such a cipher, when the parallel between him and McNulty had so much potential.

Had the young journalist checked sources with the OED, for instance, she would have found a rich and long English tradition of people—not just buildings—being evacuated. Though I appreciate that the excretory sense was later used by McNulty in passing to an unknowing colleague, it doesn’t justify that instance of officious prescriptivism.

Even the inversion of expectations felt a bit forced: Omar’s death and the mannered rejection of cliche escapes for Duquan are two examples, but we couldn’t count the Pulitzer because that was broadcast from the beginning. (I also found it a bit odd that the journo came, like the equally fleshed-out estranged wife in Bright Lights, Big City, from the Midwest.)