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The Wire (2002)
The hyperbole is entirely justified
As an 18-year old British girl, I never expected to become so enamoured (and borderline obsessed) with a show that explores what is an entirely alien culture. But I soon realised that The Wire is more familiar than foreign to me; the emotions it portrays are so beautifully and often devastatingly evoked by the wonderful cast of mostly unknowns that I often find myself relating to and empathising with the police department's moral dilemmas or the actions of the Baltimore drug dealers.
What makes The Wire so special is its unpredictability; unlike most ratings-conscious American TV shows it has no qualms about killing off its protagonists midway through a season, notably Stringer Bell's demise at the end of season three. It never panders to the viewer's shallow desires but instead goes ahead and above all of their expectations, which of course makes for a better show. Conversely, it always allows its viewers to judge moral situations for themselves and is never preachy, thus explaining why my favourite characters on the show, Stringer Bell, Bodie, and Bubbles rack up multiple murders, drug heists and other dubious acts between them. You often find yourself sympathising with, for example, the mass-murderer Wee-Bey over Police Chief Burrell in season one, which exemplifies the shows' genius.
That this show never won a single Emmy or other award is tantamount to a crime in my opinion, when you consider that cookie-cutter, one-murder-solved-per-episode crime shows like CSI rake them in every year. As clichéd as it sounds, other programmes just don't take you on the emotional journey that the Wire does. I can't think of a single time where I have been moved to tears by another show in the same way that the fate of sweet, enterprising Randy in Season four or the necessary but horrific death of Stringer Bell in the preceding season moved me.
I could write all day about this wonderful show, closer to a novel than a televised programme, but The Wire's makers and producers- and more so the near-perfect cast- say more than I ever could in sixty hours of television. A perfect ten.