Call for Essays About Any Aspect of Popular Culture, Present or Past

 

You Can Make This Stuff Up: The Do-It-Yourself Nature of HBO’s 'The Wire'

Bookmark and Share
Text:AAA
Friday, Aug 28, 2009

So much of The Wire is about watching the characters make things up. Beginning with season one, Lieutenant Daniels, the detail he supervises, their purpose and even their basement location, all come together during the process of the story. 


In Season two, the self-starter-ness of the characters moves every major part of the story; from the fact that Major Valchek wants Frank Sobotka to be convicted of something (he knows not what), to Nick Sobotka’s entrepreneurial venture into the business of heroin dealing. 


Season three takes the make-it-up-on-your-own notion to a whole new level with Major Colvin’s decriminalized drug zone, known as Hamsterdam. We are also introduced to a new and very compelling character Dennis “Cutty” Wise who starts his own boxing gym.  It is in this season where Sergeant Ellis Carver forges a new relationship with the corner dealers.
  
Although his Hamsterdam ends his career in police work, we see Colvin making it up as he goes in the classroom of a junior high school in season four. 


By season five, the making it up aspect of the show takes center stage. McNulty makes up a serial killer case, in order to get the mayor to put money back into the police department. Reporter Scott Templeton makes up a phone call from the fake serial killer.


Ultimately, this is a show about characters working with and around the rules of the different yet intertwined worlds they live in. Whether it is McNulty working around the bureaucracy of the police department, Marlow Stanfield going around the rules of the co-op, Omar robbing the stash house, or Kima Greggs telling on McNulty and Young, we are compelled to watch these individuals because they create a reality for themselves.

Related Articles
30 Jul 2014
On The Wire is a must-read book for everyone who believes that the HBO series is life-changing fiction of the highest order.
5 Jun 2012
Four years after its conclusion, The Wire continues to top best-of lists across internet sites and print magazines alike. And with each season's unique story arc, each viewer is likely to have favorites. Here is but one humble fan's take on each season of one of the greatest feats in television's history.
3 May 2012
In light of David Simon's recent comments to The New York Times on its intent to 'stir actual shit', we revisit how important The Wire should be to both popular culture and American society.
8 Mar 2012
Grantland’s ‘Smacketology’ bracket for determining the ‘greatest character’ from The Wire is an exercise in futility; nevertheless, it begs the question(s): What makes a character great, and how can there be only one?
Comments
Now on PopMatters
PM Picks
Announcements

© 1999-2014 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters.com™ and PopMatters™ are trademarks
of PopMatters Media, Inc.

PopMatters is wholly independently owned and operated.