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by Peter Moskos

March 22, 2009

The Wire's Realism

One of the issues that came up in Baltimore at the conference I was at is the realism of The Wire.

I say The Wire is about 75% - 80% realistic. Not 100%. But 74% ain't bad. And being "real" three out of four times is still about three times more realistic than any other cop show ever made.

But I'm judging The Wire from the perspective of a Baltimore Police Officer. And a former officer at that. So I loved it. But is it real? Well, from a police perspective, mostly. But I always wondered if The Wire is realistic from the drug dealers' perspective? I don't know. I'm not a gangsta. And neither, for that matter, were any of the writers.

Sure the guys on the corner looked real to me. That's how they look from the window of a police car. But what about from dealers' perspective? What do they think of The Wire. Sudhir Venkatesh asked them.

He wrote about it for his blog. I didn't read it at the time because I didn't watch The Wire till it came out in DVD. I didn't want anything spoiled. Then I forgot about Venkatesh's blog.

I still haven't read all nine posts yet.

[spoiler alert, but not for Season Five of The Wire but instead for those who want to read Venkatesh's postings from the beginning.]

If you want to cut the chase, here's the last post:
The Thugs informed me that they were not interested in watching the last 2 episodes of season 5 of The Wire....

"We’ve seen this s–t already,” Shine told me. “This is fun if you work all day behind a desk, or you’re sitting in some suburb. But for us, it’s like watching somebody make a movie about you — someone who doesn’t really know all that much about your life.”
It reminds of how when I was a cop the joy was taken from two of my favorite TV shows: COPS and Jerry Springer. COPS became a superficial portray of police work, often done very poorly. The Jerry Springer set was actually a very realist. Those people acting stupid and fighting? Yep. That's what police deal with most of the time. Both shows reminded me too much of work.

1 comment:

dave h. said...

"Both shows reminded me too much of work"

I have had similar experiences after several years working in healthcare security. Some days I feel like I'm working on the Jerry Springer set (actually its ER, ICU or the damn maternity unit...oh yeah, baby's mama drama is a regular occurrence). The bar scene has also lost some of its charm, but that might also be because I'm 31 now.