The Wire utilizes David Simon’s real-life experience to craft a meticulous crime drama that doesn’t just focus on Baltimore’s overwhelming drug trade, but on Baltimore itself and its changing stability. Each season of The Wire focuses on a different pillar of Baltimore, which culminates in an intricate series that still generates endless discussion over which of its seasons is the best.
Updated September 10, 2022 by Daniel Kurland: It's been several decades since The Wire ended, yet it's still routinely held up as the gold standard of dramatic television and how to effectively build a realistic world over time. HBO has certainly had bigger dramas since Game of Thrones, but few have captured the patience, nuance, and character development of this mosaic of a television series. HBO may never top The Wire, but it's a series that still invites plenty of debates over which season is its best.
The Wire sets an impressive precedent in Season Three, but the unexpected decision to unpack Baltimore's underfunded educational system turns out to be the gift that keeps on giving. The season's unflinching look at the volatile schools in Baltimore is enlightening, but the material hits even harder since it takes Roland "Prez" Pryzbylewski, who was a punchline as a police officer, and turns him into an empathetic educator who becomes a strong audience surrogate.
It's inspiring to see Prez find his calling and attempt to reform this new institution only to learn that it faces just as many frustrating bureaucratic setbacks as Baltimore's police department or mayoral office. The eye-opening look at education is Season Four's centerpiece, but the episodes also chronicle the Stanfield Organization's dominance of the drug trade and Mayor Carcetti's difficulty to stay on top of it all.