Thursday, March 13, 2008

"The life of kings"

On Sunday night, I watched the series finale of a program that took me a long time to get to know, but then wouldn't let me go until I'd seen every last minute of it. This show, of course, is The Wire. I've read a whole ton of different takes on the series finale, and I sit on the side of the underwhelmed who were upset at David Simon's no-so-subtle attack on his former employers, the Baltimore Sun. Unlike the compelling portrayal of the education system in the fourth season (reflecting fellow Wire creator Ed Burns's post-po-leece work profession), the depiction of the fourth estate in the fifth season felt like, well, it had been written by Scott Templeton. Essentially writing himself into the story (watch the finale closely), Simon's newsmen (and the were mostly men--but we'll get to the girls in a later post) felt exaggerated--too perfectly bad, too gleamingly good. There was no nuance, no complexity, no moment of ambiguity, as when McNulty, in the last episode of season three, asks "Who was I chasing?" after taking a look through String's book collection. It was tough to know just how to feel about Stringer--and McNulty. But we were told just exactly how we should feel about the angels and devils at the Baltimore Sun.

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