Howdy folks, and welcome to yet another new experiment. For the 2015-2016 academic year, my library is doing a reading program. Basically, we pick a book for the campus to read each year, and then we come up with as many different ways to interact with that book as we can. This year’s book is The Other Wes Moore. Check it out if you have a chance. It tells the true story of two boys named Wes Moore who grew up in Baltimore. One went on to become a Rhodes Scholar. The other went to prison for murder.
As I was reading the book, I couldn’t help but see the similarities between it and one of my favorite television shows of all time: The Wire. The show depicts the drug trade in Baltimore and the police whose job it is to bring those drug dealers to justice. At least, that’s what it starts out as. But by the end of the series, you realize it was about much more than that. It’s a snapshot of the entire city of Baltimore: its schools, politicians, police, lawyers, businessmen, workers, history, and future. Watching the show in its entirety helped me understand a lot of the problems facing our society. I know that sounds a bit corny, but it’s true.
When we first were brainstorming ideas for our reading program, one I wanted to do was a film series. Show a number of related movies and have discussions about them afterward. After I’d read the book and thought about it, I decided I wanted to try something different. In an ideal world, we’d do a public viewing of The Wire, but we don’t have the licensing rights to do that. (My library does have the complete series in our holdings, but it’s limited to private performance.)
But these days, you can watch The Wire an Amazon for free if you’re a Prime subscriber. The DVDs are widely available. If you subscribe to HBO, you can see the series that way too. I’ve put all five seasons on reserve at my library (well, the third one’s checked out, but it’ll be back in the fold soon enough). If you’re local, you can come watch them here at the library for free anytime we’re open.
So my thought is this: each week, I’m going to watch two episodes of the show, starting with the first, ending with the last. And each Wednesday, I’m going to be back here to post my ideas and thoughts about the episodes. What I liked about them, what I didn’t, what they made me think about. Whatever. Ideally, you all can chime in with your thoughts, and we can have a discussion about the show that way.
However, I have to put in a disclaimer. This is very much an adult show. It’s not going to be like my Downton Abbey responses. This is HBO. There’s language, violence, and sex in this series. If that makes you uncomfortable, feel free to skip reading my Wednesday posts for the next 9 months or so. But I do believe this show is excellent and worth a re-watch. My suggestion would be to approach it from an academic point of view. Think of this show as the text for a class at the college level. There will be some things that make you uncomfortable, yes. But the best classes I took weren’t the ones that just taught me what I already thought or already knew.
Anyway. If you’ve been looking for an excuse to get into this show (having heard about how many people love it and how incredible it is), then look no further. I hope a number of you will come along with me on this. I’m excited for the process. If you have any questions, ask away. Otherwise, watch the first two episodes this week, and join me next week for our first discussion.