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The Wire: S4

There’s a quote by Albert Camus about how much effort people expend to appear normal. The 4th season of The Wire is all about that. Everyone wants life to make sense, or as Marlo says “you want it to be one way but it isn’t.”

This season is the least like “The Wire” of any of them. The Major Case squad is disbanded. McNulty is a beat cop. There’s an election story line that’s starting to heat up. A new drug story is starting to heat up.


But we’re watching the story of 4 random kids. It’s the best season of the show. Possibly the best single season of any TV show.

There’s a long form analysis of mentors, a question about just how valuable education is, and all in all a reminder that failures of institutions don’t just affect adults that can probably get up and walk away from most problems.


Like the second season what we’re seeing unfold is a long form tragedy. Coming off the third season the writing and acting and generally everything about the show is very strong. We see the whole “new day” motif continue and feel so much darker at every meeting. But unlike the almost nihilistic uneasiness the first 2 seasons of the show gave us, the clarity of this season leaves us feeling much different about looking at these problems.

There’s a humanity in these failings. Like the issues with the schools are just so far away from the reality of the lawmakers that you just end up in awe that they’re used politically in any way.


So obviously one of the big takeaways of this season is that education is a powerful thing. It’s not some sort of automatic system that just works, the machine is made of actual people putting a lot of effort into their work. However, this powerful entity isn’t all powerful and the interconnectedness of things can take over. The kids want to be good kids. We all want to be decent individuals.

In the 4th season we see the election, er primary, finish and a new man is headed for the Mayor’s office. A new day. But the reality is the corruption issues are entrenched, politics gets in the way of government. What’s interesting is seeing the new Mayor learn first-hand that this is how things work, this is why these terrible decisions get made.


All in all I think it’s the best season. It showcases the very real passion teachers have for their work, the way that communities impact kids, and yet still finds a way to give the different institutions that cause this stuff the middle finger. It’s not so much a dark tale(which it is) but a sort of last laugh. We still see the other stories of the series progress, but we see a much more important story.

Next time we look at the final season. The program moves more to the vision of mavericks breaking away from their learned behavior, their patterns. Also the news.

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