• Network:
  • Series Premiere Date: Jun 2, 2002
  • Season #: 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5
The Wire Image
Metascore
79

Generally favorable reviews - based on 22 Critics What's this?

User Score
9.4

Universal acclaim- based on 448 Ratings

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  • Starring: , ,
  • Summary: In chronicling a multi-generational family business dealing illegal drugs and the efforts of the Baltimore police to curb their trade, this series draws parallels between these organizations and the men and women on either side of the battle.The words of Gary W. Potter, Professor of CriminalIn chronicling a multi-generational family business dealing illegal drugs and the efforts of the Baltimore police to curb their trade, this series draws parallels between these organizations and the men and women on either side of the battle.The words of Gary W. Potter, Professor of Criminal Justice and Police Studies at Eastern Kentucky University, in writing about the savings and loan scandals of the 1980s, can also be used to illuminate some of the central premises of the show:"There is precious little difference between those people who society designates as respectable and law abiding and those people society castigates as hoodlums and thugs. The world of corporate finance and corporate capital is as criminogenic and probably more criminogenic than any poverty-wracked slum neighborhood. The distinctions drawn between business, politics, and organized crime are at best artificial and in reality irrelevant. Rather than being dysfunctions, corporate crime, white-collar crime, organized crime, and political corruption are mainstays of American political-economic life."Tim Goodman, the television critic for The San Francisco Chronicle, summed the show up perfectly when he wrote: "This show is precisely the reason you pay for HBO."In New York's Newsday, Diane Werts says: "Most TV crime series aspire to John Grisham's level. 'The Wire' aspires to Dostoevsky's."Season ThemesSeason One centers around a family of drug dealers and the innerworkings of their empire. It also follows the detectives who are trying to catch the high members of the empire. Season Two steps away from the drug trade (while still mentioning characters from the previous season) to a case of dead prostitutes which turns into a look at the corruption surrounding the Port. Season Three investigates politics and finishes the main stories that were left open in season one. Season Four focuses on four middle school students and their journeys through the public school system and continues to address the politics of an inner-city and the issues of an election. Season Five is rumored to be about the media's role in Baltimore. Season Five will be the show's final season.Theme MusicIn the Season One opening credits, the Blind Boys of Alabama did Tom Waits's "Way Down in the Hole". The Season Two opening credits feature Waits's version of the song. According to creator David Simon, "It was our way of saying: This is the same show (song) but this year, the tale itself (singer, tonality) will be different." The Neville Brothers's version of the song opens Season Three. The theme which plays over the end credits was composed by the show's music supervisor, Blake Leyh.

    International AiringsAustralia -- Monday at 12:00 p.m. on Ch.9. Currently airing Season 3.
    New Zealand -- Wednesday at 11:40 p.m. on TV2, beginning December 15, 2004.
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  • Genre(s): Drama
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 18 out of 22
  2. Negative: 0 out of 22
  1. Reviewed by: Ken Tucker
    Jun 14, 2013
    100
    It's loose and rambling; its dramatic climaxes don't coincide neatly with the conclusion of any given episode. Its dialogue, overseen by creator David Simon ... is so good it often sounds improvised. One criticism of the show I've read is that it's repetitive (in showing the slow process of how the police bring down bad guys). But what those critics don't get is that those qualities are exactly what make 'The Wire' the funkiest cop show on TV.
  2. Reviewed by: Steve Johnson
    Apr 29, 2013
    100
    Spellbinding...The Wire is compelling in its complexity, heart-rending in its humanity, and surprising in the ways it finds to spin the conventions of cop drama. [31 May 2002, p.4]
  3. Reviewed by: Tom Shales
    Apr 29, 2013
    90
    It's to the network's credit that it undertakes projects that aren't necessarily big crowd-pleasers but have a palpable artistic integrity and social significance. [1 June 2002, p.C01]
  4. Reviewed by: Matthew Gilbert
    Apr 29, 2013
    80
    The Wire is a cop drama from top to bottom. It does take a systemic view of the issue, like "Traffic," Steven Soderbergh's drug-trade saga. But it never sacrifices drama and character for lecture. [31 May 2002, p.E14]
  5. Reviewed by: Mike Duffy
    Apr 29, 2013
    80
    Though it's extremely well done, The Wire lacks the signature HBO kick of discovering something brand new, that giddy feeling of freshness that immediately attached itself to "The Sopranos" and "Six Feet Under." With The Wire, there's a less-exciting echo: Same old, same old. Been there, done that. [31 May 2002]
  6. Reviewed by: James Poniewozik
    Jun 28, 2013
    70
    It slowly develops into an engrossing look at the methodical nature of police work and the limits of individualism.
  7. Reviewed by: David Bianculli
    Apr 29, 2013
    40
    After watching five hours of preview tapes, I'm interested to see how The Wire turns out. But without characters to care for, much less root for, I'm not exactly burning with curiosity -- the way I am with most of HBO's other series...When it comes down to The Wire, this show falls short.

See all 22 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 54 out of 54
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 54
  3. Negative: 0 out of 54
  1. Oct 6, 2011
    10
    There is no other show, any where. In any continent, country or what have you, it's the greatest thing that has ever been committed toThere is no other show, any where. In any continent, country or what have you, it's the greatest thing that has ever been committed to television. It's impossible to dislike or even change the channel. God has blesses us Expand
  2. Jun 28, 2011
    10
    Great show. A near to reality that you will ever see. Its not as good as Sopranos but in my ways; it is actually better. Just feels moreGreat show. A near to reality that you will ever see. Its not as good as Sopranos but in my ways; it is actually better. Just feels more real....the drug scene, the killing......Love the show. Expand
  3. Dec 30, 2011
    10
    Why can't I say just say "best TV show ever" rather than having to type out 150 characters to just say "The Wire is the best TV show ever"?Why can't I say just say "best TV show ever" rather than having to type out 150 characters to just say "The Wire is the best TV show ever"? And, by the way, did I mention that The Wire is the best TV show ever. (Hope this is 150 characters!). :) Expand
  4. May 16, 2012
    10
    Can it get better? I don't think so. The story line is great, the characters are interesting and far away from the one dimensional charactersCan it get better? I don't think so. The story line is great, the characters are interesting and far away from the one dimensional characters in other series and the overall ambiance is just so realistic. No comparison to **** or anything.
    Only flaw (if you can call it a flaw) is that you can't enter anywhere during the series. You need to watch from the first episode to the very last without missing any to really understand the plot, which makes it hard for a TV series to be successful.
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  5. Jul 12, 2014
    10
    By a long way, the best police related television show made. If you want to know who a terrible critic is, look at the people who gave this aBy a long way, the best police related television show made. If you want to know who a terrible critic is, look at the people who gave this a poor, or even average rating. Brilliant characters backed by amazing and unique acting. Expand
  6. Mar 10, 2015
    10
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. The wire is one of the most powerful things you will ever watch on television. It's violently candid depiction of the low-income neighborhoods in Baltimore, from their mobsters running organized crime, to their corrupt systems of politics, media and education, are extremely gritty and equally brilliant. The writing keeps you guessing throughout all four seasons and the cast is exemplary, growing more cohesive through every episode. A good amount of the cast are either ex-drug dealers or ex-cops from Baltimore which gives the series an undeniably authentic element that truly sets the wire in a league apart from other television programs. I would love if every one could watch this show just as food for thought; but if you're looking for your next crime series to get absolutely, head over heels, hooked on, look no further. Expand
  7. Jun 1, 2014
    8
    Season 1 and 2 stand the test of time. The rest of the seasons fall short. 12 years out the first 2 seasons rival anything since. If youSeason 1 and 2 stand the test of time. The rest of the seasons fall short. 12 years out the first 2 seasons rival anything since. If you never saw this then give it a go and you will probably end up finishing it anyway. Not as good as BB but still a mothertrucker. Expand

See all 54 User Reviews

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