IMDB, which I have found to be the most reliable source of movie and TV ratings, gives HB0’s The Wire an unprecedented 9.7 out of 10 rating based on over 20,000 votes. This score makes The Wire the highest-rated show on IMDB. For comparison purposes, Shawshank Redemption, the highest-rated movie, gets a 9.1. The point is, I am not blowing smoke when I say this may be the single greatest serialized television show ever.

The bad news, few have seen the show. Good news, everyone can now enjoy it anytime thanks to streaming services like HBO Go.

The Wire was the creation of ex-Baltimore detective Ed Burns and former Baltimore Sun journalist David Simon. Over the course of five seasons, with the help of a truly extraordinary ensemble of actors and over 200 speaking roles, Burns and Simon – along with a stellar group of writers (some famous) – use the series to explore some of the most vexing problems in America today. Inner city crime, class warfare, drugs in the inner city, education, politics, and in the final season the decline of journalism.

What you most need to understand about this show, it is a show made by writers who explore issues in a journalistic fashion. Well researched presentations of facts, without much overt advocacy toward any conclusion. The viewer, in the end, must decide what to think of all that is presented. This is in stark contrast to most network offerings that telegraph and spoon feed perspective to the viewer. This may explain why it never really gained a wide audience. It requires the audience to think and it’s hard to watch. This lack of spoon feeding perspective may also explain why the series won the Peabody Award for journalistic excellence.

One story per season with a clear journalistic focus told across 10-13 episodes (depending on the year).  This depth of story, along with over a hundred speaking roles each seaon, makes this the ideal series to binge-watch over successive nights. Viewing this way ensures you’ll never be completely lost, while growing to appreciate the issues explored, You will also get emotionally involved with some of the great characters on the show. Omar, Bunk, Bubbles, Stringer, Barksdale, Carchetti, Daniels, Lester, and of course McNulty.  Each worth of an overlooked Emmy – but and there are many others.

Nothing on tonight? Do yourself a favor and go out and stream The Wire Season One.  Chances are you will be hooked and see the Greatest Show Ever!

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