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

Super Bowl ghosts Cosplay Mary Tyler Moore Comics on TV YouTube Premium doctor who PBS The Walt Disney Company Turner Classic Movies dramedy obi wan Amazon Prime Video independent Mudbound target spider-man dark adenture crime thriller halloween golden globe awards Oscar HFPA boxoffice GIFs Winners Quiz Sci-Fi Funimation Image Comics PaleyFest President SundanceTV LGBTQ Schedule Prime Video ABC Family slasher boxing Election historical drama Captain marvel Rocketman mob History comiccon Nickelodeon Dark Horse Comics AMC rom-coms Toys foreign debate Mindy Kaling james bond dogs Box Office Sundance Watching Series politics spy thriller italian genre TV movies christmas movies documentaries summer TV nbcuniversal Fox Searchlight harry potter binge godzilla Trophy Talk Lifetime TLC AMC Plus trailers Nominations 79th Golden Globes Awards discovery talk show casting telelvision Cartoon Network E! ITV 2021 international Sneak Peek Sundance TV festival Best and Worst dceu tv talk Character Guide Sony Pictures finale MTV American Society of Cinematographers 24 frames Grammys psycho Hollywood Foreign Press Association hollywood news Ellie Kemper Spring TV saw franchise venice concert Tokyo Olympics Showtime vampires IMDb TV Turner Tomatazos VH1 TruTV Disney Film Festival richard e. Grant cults Heroines dc science fiction Fargo The CW Photos Black History Month batman Certified Fresh BBC America Netflix Christmas movies revenge Calendar Polls and Games satire Exclusive Video Avengers summer TV preview Song of Ice and Fire prank black Interview football Cannes Comedy Central Oscars strong female leads Amazon Prime australia cancelled TV shows VICE TNT Biopics blaxploitation new york 2015 Vudu Pacific Islander Best Actor Baby Yoda Paramount Pictures video on demand YouTube Red CMT werewolf based on movie Hallmark BET crossover TCA 2017 suspense Television Critics Association Family halloween tv screen actors guild 007 justice league 2017 a nightmare on elm street medical drama Rom-Com die hard Best Actress sitcom Television Academy archives HBO Max psychological thriller The Purge game show stop motion zombies screenings Superheroe golden globes ID political drama Podcast mutant monster movies Broadway Countdown live event 2019 streaming movies travel The Witch parents MCU Music HBO Paramount Plus USA Network book sopranos Pop TV Universal SXSW spider-verse Pirates FXX Christmas Mystery romance hispanic heritage month king kong Shondaland Best Director name the review Writers Guild of America Wes Anderson Fox News Musicals Awards Tour kong japanese comic book movies TV renewals action-comedy Classic Film critics DC Universe Spike Pixar Marvel Television critic resources biopic Premiere Dates worst movies Alien movie nature know your critic legend Esquire Amazon 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards Acorn TV space comic books 73rd Emmy Awards comedies trophy Ovation FOX royal family X-Men Creative Arts Emmys Marvel Studios worst Fall TV latino TCA docudrama razzies GoT Disney Channel twilight rt labs critics edition chucky TV 1990s Columbia Pictures crime Mary Poppins Returns A24 Starz Emmy Nominations vs. Disney+ Disney Plus 99% Netflix The Academy cops TIFF ABC Signature Endgame Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt facebook cancelled Rocky E3 Bravo ratings FX on Hulu scary sports Pet Sematary Trivia Food Network mission: impossible elevated horror Epix canceled TV shows Star Trek criterion Action spinoff heist movie Ghostbusters biography Women's History Month spain unscripted 21st Century Fox Superheroes 2016 composers adventure movies CBS All Access Video Games streaming mockumentary adaptation slashers Travel Channel Disney Plus IFC CW Seed renewed TV shows rotten Paramount french gangster BBC One stoner miniseries Spectrum Originals sequel Comedy king arthur toy story Comic Book universal monsters MSNBC TBS television Comic-Con@Home 2021 Adult Swim comics DGA Pop Arrowverse 20th Century Fox cars IFC Films cancelled TV series Extras 2018 Disney streaming service directors aapi marvel cinematic universe BBC laika Set visit Warner Bros. YouTube Thanksgiving cartoon Holiday quibi Crunchyroll new zealand Nat Geo The Arrangement Rock rt labs 2020 thriller VOD Valentine's Day Mary poppins jurassic park Britbox New York Comic Con Logo BET Awards scene in color fresh Fantasy green book indiana jones live action singing competition NYCC joker NBC young adult ABC Pride Month APB Infographic CNN scary movies El Rey comic book movie breaking bad Musical Amazon Studios pirates of the caribbean Tumblr blockbusters cats Peacock zero dark thirty anime USA blockbuster Crackle Emmys anthology Reality Competition new star wars movies transformers National Geographic true crime GLAAD best RT History crime drama indie 94th Oscars posters hidden camera Focus Features reviews Lifetime Christmas movies 90s Binge Guide 93rd Oscars documentary jamie lee curtis classics mcc streamig toronto obituary Syfy animated romantic comedy Chilling Adventures of Sabrina technology Lucasfilm WGN 4/20 Horror 45 art house Tags: Comedy Universal Pictures summer preview CBS DC streaming service FX Masterpiece rt archives deadpool Trailer war Freeform LGBT scorecard Apple TV Plus First Reviews child's play Brie Larson cinemax Stephen King Winter TV docuseries Red Carpet all-time teaser period drama Neflix Kids & Family kids DirecTV Star Wars Paramount Network witnail wonder woman The Walking Dead festivals book adaptation Elton John robots dragons Holidays Summer Country cancelled television kaiju feel good asian-american sag awards Tarantino basketball TCA Awards Reality Shudder serial killer TV Land reboot japan YA OneApp series Discovery Channel San Diego Comic-Con superman TCA Winter 2020 comic high school Martial Arts aliens lord of the rings hispanic cooking Anna Paquin natural history Opinion dexter remakes game of thrones award winner popular Drama films Marathons PlayStation marvel comics leaderboard NBA video Western Best Picture Teen children's TV rotten movies we love Apple TV+ women TCM DC Comics First Look South by Southwest Film Festival what to watch social media MGM olympics 71st Emmy Awards ESPN Apple Chernobyl Marvel versus Tubi RT21 spanish language black comedy superhero hist Sundance Now disaster Instagram Live Year in Review SDCC emmy awards Walt Disney Pictures Awards See It Skip It BAFTA nfl sequels ViacomCBS spanish zombie police drama Film Hallmark Christmas movies Lionsgate Black Mirror A&E TV One HBO Go free movies Academy Awards 72 Emmy Awards south america supernatural canceled WarnerMedia OWN Animation dreamworks stand-up comedy Hear Us Out Hulu SXSW 2022 fast and furious diversity theme song Legendary