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Friday, November 30, 2007

Obama Loves the Wire; I Now Love Obama

posted by on November 30 at 14:53 PM

This exchange from the Republican YouTube debate gave me some wry pleasure. The requisite love-fest for all things biblical and Christian is a long-standing tactic of conservative political candidates—a way of indicating a wide array of beliefs without having to explicitly state the less popular ones. As the questioner stated “how you answer this question will tell us everything we need to know about you.”

Silly conservatives—symbols for the simple minded.

Of course, the next morning I stumbled upon a detail about Barack Obama that placed me solidly as a supporter. Something about his health care plan? NIH and NSF funding? A stunning foreign policy position? Nope.

TV guide asked the candidates for president for their favorite TV show. Edwards? L&O. Hillary? Grey’s Anatomy. Barack Obama’s? The Wire.

The Wire! Now that’s interesting choice for a presidential candidate. The Wire is objectively the best television series ever created—a detailed, beautifully scripted, acted and filmed deconstruction of every institutional failure in a major US city. Baltimore, my home prior to Seattle, is the setting where the police, drug trade, unions, government, schools and finally the press are carefully dissected. The series is deeply and humorously honest in a rare way; few notes strike me as wrong, viewed through my time training as an EMT-B with the Baltimore City Fire Department. (Medic 11, hon!) You should watch it. Now.

Here’s a taste:

(NSFW, without headphones at least.)

The net effect is somewhat nihilistic. No character is left unblemished. Institutions are at best viewed as noble failures (the Stevedores Union) and more often as a destructive force. Obama’s declaration of love for the series, to me at least, is his deep recognition of the limits of presidential and governmental power as well as the magnitude of the problems we face. Any man prepared to take such a naked look at today’s United States deserves my vote.

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odd... they just re-ran an old interview with the show's creator on NPR today. i'd never heard of it before.

Posted by brandon | November 30, 2007 3:00 PM

I also heard that McCain claimed to be a fan of the show as well. I have a hunch that a candidate saying he likes The Wire is almost an attempt to use code to say, "We understand the drug war is a disaster but can't say it out loud, so we'll just say we like The Wire and maybe that'll be enough".

Posted by thehim | November 30, 2007 3:04 PM

How does it compare with the other Baltimore-as-hell TV series, the wondrous Homicide: Life on the Street?

Posted by N in Seattle | November 30, 2007 3:05 PM

Good thing that President Gore likes Pushing Daisies ...

Posted by Will in Seattle | November 30, 2007 3:08 PM

Having watched every episode of both series: Homicide was great. The Wire is exemplary.

Imagine Homicide, but without the limits of an episodic format and network censors and a gradually building scope.

I cannot wait for Season 5.

Posted by Jonathan Golob | November 30, 2007 3:09 PM

Does Romney have any opinion re: Big Love?

Posted by NapoleonXIV | November 30, 2007 3:13 PM

The Wire is the best thing ever put on TV.

Posted by SeMe | November 30, 2007 3:13 PM

It's better than H:LOTS. Having worked in Balmer for a while it's really fun to watch. Just a great show with many layers of goodness.

Posted by Tony D. | November 30, 2007 3:16 PM

FYI, "Firefly" is objectively the best television show ever.

Posted by Fire F. Ly | November 30, 2007 3:23 PM

I'm a big Firefly fan, but nothing comes close to The Wire.

The clincher is a scene in season one where McNulty and Bunk investigate an entire crime scene, and work out what happened with perfect communication, using only the word fuck. That may be the best scene ever filmed for TV.

Posted by Andrew | November 30, 2007 3:31 PM

Wow, that's almost enough to change my change my vote. A Law and Order rerun is a fine enough way to spend an hour when nothing else is on. Grey's Anatomy, I have never watched and have no desire to see, despite the fact that I went to high school with T.R. Knight. But, The Wire - I agree it is probably the best show ever made. I can't say it's my personal favorite - I would probably save that for The Simpsons, Arrested Development, or even Buffy, but The Wire is almost perfectly made. Plus, mmmm... Stringer Bell... (drools).

Posted by Lis | November 30, 2007 3:38 PM

@3 Maybe you're already aware, but David Simon, creator of The Wire, wrote the book on which Homicide was based and was also a writer and producer on that show.

@10 Agreed. Best. Scene. Ever.

Posted by matthew e | November 30, 2007 3:51 PM

after hearing so much about the wire, i finally netflixed the first DVD. i found the writing (dialog) substandard and the characters unbelievable.

nothing compared to the sopranos, and i certainly like the simpsons, seinfeld and L&O better.

Posted by infrequent | November 30, 2007 3:58 PM

nah, i think the best Wire scene is the season 4 opener, when Snoop is shopping for a nail gun so her and Chris can seal up the corpses.

" Yeah, I got u, the kick back."

Posted by SeMe | November 30, 2007 4:03 PM

Oh that's a good reason to vote for Bareback Osama... er Barak Osama... um Bareback Obama- Oh Fu*k IT!

Posted by IMAdrgQ | November 30, 2007 4:20 PM

He likes those HBO shows. He was introduced by Jeremy Piven and said he watched Entourage in Chicago.

Posted by Poi | November 30, 2007 4:49 PM

I want to be Omar when I grow up. in the meantime, voting for Obama will suffice.

Posted by Harker | November 30, 2007 7:40 PM

i never saw homicide:life on the streets, and i'm sure it was very good but i must say that any show about police or crime that does not include the word fuck is ridiculous. it's like having a show about space explorers who never say the word star. that is one of the reasons why the wire is the best crime drama of all time.

and to the commenter who thought the characters were unbelievable, you should know that most of the main characters are composites of real baltimore people, omar is particularly interesting in this regard.

Posted by douglas | November 30, 2007 10:54 PM

HBO has been running all previous seasons on demand in preparation for the 5th & final season - coming 1/8/08. I blogged about Obama and the Wire here:

Posted by seadevi | December 3, 2007 11:47 AM

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