The Wire – Season Five

This is the end of the run, and it’s about time. All of the remarkable story lines are played out and the last ten episodes have been a fitting series ending. Once again, it uncannily pulled in relevant topics that interested and enlightened me, which is baffling, considering the series is over five years old.

It’s proof that we, as a society, are doomed to repeat failure and not learn from our past (okay, maybe just me). Are we really still caught dumbfounded when a news organization spews lies and half truths (Te’o, Lance)? Do we really understand what’s going to happen if some semblance of traditional media doesn’t survive? Can we believe anything that politicians do isn’t driven by a self-serving lust for money and power?

My answer to these questions would reflect too much cynicism and self-loathing, so I’ll not bore you with them. The focus in season five captures a lot of the issues surrounding these questions and while it doesn’t provide answers, it provides instruction.

This show has changed my view that TV is a waste of time. It’s responsible for re-framing how and how often I consume TV shows. I can honestly say that through 60 plus episodes, I was never bored. But on the flip side, I never had the urge to speed things up, no inclination to do a marathon viewing session. It took me over two years to watch the whole thing, mostly on my iPhone, mostly during travel for business. I looked forward to it, planned around it, relished it, and now it’s done.

It wasn’t a rousing final episode (or final season, for that matter) with plot twists and high drama. It stayed true to the series; it was thoughtful, with a good mix of happy and sad, victory and failure, highs and lows, excitement and acceptance. David Simon tried hard to pack this series with lessons and teachable moments, maybe too hard at times, but he never dumbed it down.

So now I’m a veteran of The Wire. I can comment, with authority, when I notice one of the actors in another show. I can recognize references to it when a columnist mentions it or draws some parallel in an article I’m reading. I can commiserate with fellow fans about the cool characters and timely plot elements.

So I’ll always have that, which vaults my pop-culture street cred through the roof, in my mind at least.