Okay, I originally posted this last night when I was in the midst of watching the series finale of what I personally believe to have been the greatest television series I've ever watched. I removed the article quickly for two reasons:
1) I wanted the post on John Carrigan to be at the top of the page, because his story was much more important than any TV series could ever hope to be; and
2) I had made the statement that I thought the show got "everything" right, including it's portrayals of cops, crooks, prosecutors, and defense attorneys. About five minutes later, the show portrayed a defense attorney as extremely unethical, sleazy, and criminal. I didn't want my post to be misconstrued as me saying that I thought that particular behavior was the show getting "defense attorneys right".
So, let me start over this evening :-)
I don't want to give away any plot points or spoilers on the show, but I would like to say that I do think that The Wire got so many things right about the so-called "drug war" that it should be a must see for anyone who wants to truly understand the criminal justice system.
There were no black and white issues in The Wire. The viewer was just as likely to find compassion for the drug dealer as the police officer. The one character who truly got unmitigated pity and admiration was "Bubbles" who fought horrible drug addiction throughout the show's five seasons.
Mark Bennett and I have been debating on the overall message of The Wire on our e-mails today. I thought that the message was that the drug war could never be won, but that it was worth fighting. He argued that I was a nimwit.
He cited the Season Three premise were a "renegade" police captain moved all the addicts into an abandoned apartment projects where the police would just let them be. It was a social experiment that they called "New Hamsterdam" (based on a dealer's mispronunciation of Amsterdam). Mark's argument was that the story-line illustrated that if drugs were de facto legalized, life would be easier for everyone.
He makes a valid point.
I cited a gut-wrenching scene from this season of an infant crying over the body of his mother who had clearly overdosed on heroin. I thought the message was that the illegal drugs destroyed lives, taking its toll on the littlest of victims.
In the end, I think Mark and I may both be right. I think that was the point of the show.
The answer is that there is no answer.
Let me know your thoughts.
(NOTE: I didn't list any spoilers in my post, but I make no such promises on the comments. Read at your own risk.)
P.S. Omar rocks!