With the wealth of high-quality premium television currently available, journalists and fans alike have been quick to enter into discussions about “the best TV show ever.” One series that consistently makes the cut is HBO’s crime drama The Wire, even though it ended its run back in 2008. So what’s the big deal? We’re here to tell you.

The Wire

The Wire
What’s the premise? Broadly speaking, The Wire follows a ragtag task force assembled by the Baltimore Police Department to investigate a local drug kingpin suspected of multiple homicides. As the case expands, it illuminates the systemic malaise and corruption plaguing the city’s various public institutions.

What’s it like? Nothing in popular culture can match The Wire in terms of epic scope and lived-in authenticity, but if you were to take New Jack City (about the rise and fall of a drug kingpin) and Clockers (about the street kids who do the actual grinding) and mix them together with Nas’ Illmatic and a Frontline documentary about the war on drugs, you’d be on the right track.

Where can I see it? All five seasons are available to stream for members of Amazon Prime and to HBO subscribers on HBO GO.

How long will it take? The Wire takes five seasons and 60 episodes to tell its story, with each episode running close to an hour. If you possess zen-like self control, you can probably close out the series in a couple of months; if you find yourself burning through the episodes, though, it can be done in two to three weeks.

What do the critics think? When The Wire initially aired, there were a couple of critics who didn’t know what to make of it, so its first season is also its lowest-rated at 82 percent. Everyone was on board after that, though, so seasons two through five all earned 100 percent Tomatometers. Perhaps most accurately summing up the series, Alessandra Stanley of the New York Times wrote, “It is one of the most intimate and alarming depictions of urban America on television, and yet it’s an invigorating and even exhilarating experience, each season a new Harry Potter book for adults.”

Why should I watch this? Everyone has that friend who’s been saying for years, “Dude, you have got to watch The Wire.” You should take your friend’s advice, just to get him or her to shut up. But what you’ll quickly discover when you blast through a bunch of episodes — trust us, it’s that addictive — is that you’ve never quite seen anything like The Wire before. There are plenty of police procedurals in the world, and there are plenty of movies about inner-city life, but nothing before or since has captured the rhythms of a city — from the street corners to the interrogation rooms, from the docks to the halls of power — like The Wire does for Baltimore. And the reason is that every character — and we mean every character — is endowed with such care that everyone, from the big stars to the bit players, feels like a fully formed, gray-shaded human being. It’s difficult to single out one actor within this magnificent ensemble for inordinate praise — remember, The Wire gave Idris Elba, Amy Ryan, Aidan Gillen, and Michael B. Jordan their big breaks. But as Omar Little, Michael Kenneth Williams gives a once-in-a-lifetime performance; with his scarred face and his trademark whistle, he’s the boogeyman that even the toughest street guys see in their nightmares. He also possesses a razor-sharp wit, providing a succinct appraisal of Baltimore corruption with one of the series’ most memorable lines: “I got the shotgun. You got the briefcase. It’s all in the game though, right?”

What’s my next step? Series creator/writer David Simon formerly worked as a police reporter for The Baltimore Sun, where his experiences provided the material for his true-crime book Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets. If you’re not much for reading, though, you can always check out the acclaimed TV series adapted from the book, Homicide: Life on the Street. Prior to The Wire, HBO also adapted another of Simon’s books into a miniseries called The Corner, which also profiles the war on drugs in Baltimore. If you’re looking for another drama populated by thoughtfully fleshed out characters, Orange Is the New Black is all the rage right now, and if you’re a fan of The Wire‘s talented cast, you can see some of them in other HBO dramas like True Blood, Treme, and Boardwalk Empire. For something you can digest in one sitting, you might try films like American Gangster or the aforementioned Clockers and New Jack City.

Have you tuned into The Wire? Tell us why it is (or isn’t) one of the “best TV shows ever.”

Click here to enjoy a long and lovely sneak peek of "Elizabethtown," which is the new film by writer/director Cameron Crowe. Starring Orlando Bloom ("The Lord of the Rings"), Kirsten Dunst ("Spider-Man"), Susan Sarandon ("Bull Durham"), Alec Baldwin ("The Cooler"), Judy Greer ("Cursed"), and Jessica Biel ("Stealth"), "Elizabethtown" tells the story of an outrageous memorial for a Southern patriarch, in which an unexpected romance blooms between a young woman and man.

Cameron Crowe is the filmmaker behind such well-regarded "people stories" as "Say Anything," "Jerry Maguire," and "Almost Famous," so obviously his next project is met with high hopes and much anticipation — and this lengthy trailer clip is a little bit of loveliness.

"Elizabethtown" opens on October 14th.

Tag Cloud

MCU Polls and Games cancelled television rt labs critics edition genre Disney Amazon Prime diversity 45 American Society of Cinematographers Hulu Peacock popular Rocky indiana jones festival E! Fox Searchlight romantic comedy TruTV Sundance Now Set visit cancelled TV series cinemax aapi monster movies sopranos rotten movies we love action-comedy ESPN political drama television discovery Reality Competition Christmas TCA Awards international Arrowverse talk show OneApp Nominations Freeform Broadway FX crossover hist Instagram Live travel Discovery Channel Academy Awards Image Comics stoner TCA 2017 tv talk japanese The Witch Universal TV One football TCA Paramount halloween 2016 DC Comics rotten halloween tv child's play Cartoon Network Lionsgate Countdown CW Seed target 2017 Legendary japan Winners YA italian razzies wonder woman spanish BET Awards all-time Mary Tyler Moore Apple TV+ El Rey politics Acorn TV streaming sports green book australia See It Skip It The Walking Dead IFC Amazon Studios CBS Fox News TV movies Pop Awards Tour video sequel hispanic reviews Pirates space universal monsters social media godzilla Holidays LGBT Drama Holiday casting Esquire concert Fantasy Infographic Animation Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Mary Poppins Returns Reality MSNBC TV renewals Masterpiece Heroines Film Festival stand-up comedy Disney+ Disney Plus Netflix Christmas movies Sundance TIFF TV Land toy story spinoff Mudbound art house obituary cooking HBO jurassic park transformers ratings Tokyo Olympics game show A24 The Purge children's TV adenture thriller PaleyFest 24 frames Cosplay prank SundanceTV Comic Book Fargo RT21 Action Brie Larson satire OWN laika Premiere Dates TCA Winter 2020 Britbox movie mutant AMC Plus Music Video Games Comic-Con@Home 2021 kong Wes Anderson First Reviews Television Critics Association Classic Film feel good composers natural history telelvision FX on Hulu new zealand blockbuster gangster hidden camera olympics breaking bad scary movies 2020 justice league Best and Worst Apple dark trailers batman award winner teaser VOD movies Year in Review facebook Ellie Kemper Black History Month toronto Thanksgiving Cannes Walt Disney Pictures ghosts DirecTV elevated horror spain Neflix Mary poppins CBS All Access anime critics NYCC HBO Max SDCC asian-american dc independent Rocketman legend Travel Channel anthology cartoon Teen BAFTA cops sitcom The CW Marvel History screen actors guild indie Toys BET PlayStation canceled comedies Pet Sematary historical drama 2018 Pride Month robots trophy women GIFs Lifetime Christmas movies serial killer Crackle critic resources period drama biography dceu Character Guide Comedy Central know your critic Television Academy TV Musical Writers Guild of America crime drama TLC best San Diego Comic-Con films Marathons 73rd Emmy Awards A&E Superheroe franchise biopic superhero true crime jamie lee curtis WGN nfl slasher Star Trek marvel comics Hear Us Out Black Mirror Kids & Family spider-verse Disney streaming service 2021 high school Valentine's Day Food Network Tubi Starz National Geographic science fiction Syfy adventure twilight YouTube Premium golden globe awards young adult cults unscripted ITV hollywood kaiju NBA Lucasfilm zombies sag awards Western CMT Apple TV Plus Amazon Prime Video spider-man nature The Arrangement 2015 aliens 1990s Avengers romance Binge Guide cats ABC Signature foreign VH1 boxing singing competition Universal Pictures debate Disney Plus archives Ovation Marvel Studios superman docudrama Showtime king kong Tarantino kids stop motion Shondaland a nightmare on elm street crime thriller binge cancelled TV shows Nickelodeon new star wars movies Sci-Fi NBC comic Awards ViacomCBS E3 Vudu dramedy Trailer marvel cinematic universe 007 classics mission: impossible book adaptation 72 Emmy Awards Tumblr criterion documentary animated Martial Arts Election Amazon Schedule christmas movies zombie king arthur Country revenge First Look comics suspense 20th Century Fox APB Turner The Walt Disney Company Marvel Television worst ABC Family name the review what to watch spy thriller james bond ABC fast and furious comic books Quiz Funimation DC streaming service Podcast IMDb TV Spectrum Originals Elton John Paramount Network Stephen King zero dark thirty CNN miniseries joker Winter TV Paramount Plus Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt PBS new york ID Red Carpet Emmys Summer medical drama lord of the rings 99% finale police drama Women's History Month Comics on TV Ghostbusters Endgame Nat Geo The Academy Crunchyroll USA Network Box Office FXX heist movie MTV basketball streaming movies cancelled USA comic book movies parents mob nbcuniversal Comedy Hallmark Christmas movies fresh Logo supernatural Baby Yoda Sony Pictures YouTube rt labs Photos Pixar Disney Channel Emmy Nominations New York Comic Con AMC spanish language Adult Swim Super Bowl hispanic heritage month screenings black comedy strong female leads rt archives harry potter Sundance TV Opinion LGBTQ VICE canceled TV shows dogs 93rd Oscars war golden globes theme song Columbia Pictures Captain marvel Horror SXSW Pop TV Bravo vs. Watching Series technology pirates of the caribbean Mystery rom-coms chucky WarnerMedia Alien Epix Chernobyl scary Biopics Lifetime black Tomatazos emmy awards reboot witnail psychological thriller cars sequels Certified Fresh Star Wars HBO Go festivals X-Men Netflix TCM Rock TNT Extras series Superheroes royal family die hard Family directors Shudder saw TBS BBC America IFC Films YouTube Red Spring TV scorecard Warner Bros. posters french boxoffice Hallmark GLAAD Creative Arts Emmys dexter President 21st Century Fox Calendar news Trivia RT History Interview Trophy Talk doctor who Fall TV vampires book dreamworks documentaries video on demand slashers Song of Ice and Fire BBC One blaxploitation adaptation Rom-Com dragons DC Universe remakes mcc comiccon docuseries south america Musicals GoT FOX deadpool Anna Paquin 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards crime based on movie live action disaster BBC venice richard e. Grant psycho Turner Classic Movies DGA renewed TV shows Sneak Peek live event mockumentary 4/20 Pacific Islander game of thrones Mindy Kaling Film scene in color 90s Dark Horse Comics quibi werewolf Spike leaderboard Grammys Oscars 71st Emmy Awards 2019 worst movies latino versus Exclusive Video comic book movie blockbusters free movies