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What a wonderful Marxist review of one of the best shows ever on tv: *The
Wire*. 10 years on, it is getting another look by Sheehan and Sheamus
Sweeney at Jacobin.
--David Walters

Considered by many to be the best television drama series ever, *The Wire*
ran from June 2, 2002, to March 9, 2008. Made and set in Baltimore, it
employed a large ensemble cast playing cops, junkies, dealers, lawyers,
judges, dockers, prostitutes, prisoners, teachers, students, politicians,
and journalists. The *dramatis personae* ranged widely, not only
horizontally but vertically, from the foot soldiers of the drug trade,
police department, school system, and newspapers through middle management
to the higher executives, showing parallel problems and choices pervading
the whole society.

But summing up its plot does not tell the full story. As the series
progressed, *The Wire*’s individual stories opened out into an analysis of
an overarching, and at times irresistible, system shaping each aspect of
society. The series demonstrated the potential of television narrative to
dramatize the nature of the social order, a potential that TV drama has
long neglected or inadequately pursued.

Each season ended with a stirring montage that pulls together the various
plots and projects them into the immediate future, leaving the viewer
pondering the storylines’ outcomes and reflecting on their causes and
consequences. And off-screen *The Wire*’s writers provided a rich context
to its intentions and message, a meta-narrative that situates the series
within twenty-first century American capitalism. In many ways, *The Wire*
is a Marxist’s idea of what TV drama should be — stylish and intellectually
serious, a series with compelling plotlines woven through a rigorous
analysis of society.


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