The Wire turns 10 this year, and the HBO series seems to get more popular and influential as the years pass. In fact, I can think of three random Wire references off the top of my head in the past week or so. My daughter heard it mentioned by Zooey Deschanel in the most recent episode of New Girl, Fox Sports writer Jason Whitlock compared the Ravens to The Wire in a recent column, and I heard that MICA, like a number of the other colleges, now offers a course based on the show.
Whitlock actually drew comparisons between Ravens players and certain Wire characters (he also compared Tom Brady and the Patriots to Don Draper and Mad Men), equating Ray Lewis with Stringer Bell, Ed Reed with Avon, and Terrell Suggs with Wee-Bey. He didn’t mention Omar. But he did say during an interview on 105.7 that he was considering writing another column in which Avon (Ed Reed) writes Stringer (Ray Lewis) from prison and urges him to get out of the game (retire). That piece never materialized but it speaks to the reach of the show and its continuing influence on popular culture.
The MICA course speaks to its impact in the halls of academia. Various universities have offered Wire-related courses over the years, and MICA’s is called “The Wire & American Naturalism.” According to the school, the course examines the work of writer/producer David Simon as a contemporary example of American Naturalism:
Like the creators of the The Wire, American naturalist novelists of the 1890s and early 20th century produced searing depictions of urban criminality and economic injustice. While simultaneously reading from naturalist texts and viewing Simon’s groundbreaking series, the class investigates the relationship between naturalism, political reform and melodrama; examines the scientific and intellectual foundations of the literary movement; and considers the philosophical problems posed by a naturalist worldview.
In fact, Simon will lecture at MICA on February 29th—Falvey Hall, 7 pm—about the current state of Baltimore and the legacy of the show. Simon’s talk, which is free and open to the public, is sponsored by the Humanistic Studies Department.
Simon wrote a fantastic essay for us as the series was winding down, and you can read that here. It opens with Simon recalling when Martin O'Malley, then mayor of Baltimore, called to say, "We want to be out of The Wire business."