• Network: HBO
  • Series Premiere Date: Jun 2, 2002
Season #: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
Metascore
98

Universal acclaim - based on 21 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 21 out of 21
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 21
  3. Negative: 0 out of 21
  1. 100
    To me, what allows “The Wire” to surpass “The Sopranos” in the pantheon of greatest American TV shows is its ambition and its anger.
  2. Reviewed by: Matt Roush
    100
    This is TV as great modern literature, a shattering and heartbreaking urban epic about a city (Baltimore) rotting from within.
  3. Reviewed by: Verne Gay
    100
    A critic for this paper once declared "The Wire" "the greatest dramatic series ever produced for television" and as the fourth season gets under way Sunday night, there's no reason to quibble with that assessment.
  4. The breadth and ambition of "The Wire" are unrivaled and that taken cumulatively over the course of a season -- any season -- it's an astonishing display of writing, acting and storytelling that must be considered alongside the best literature and filmmaking in the modern era.
  5. 100
    If you have only one hour a week for television, give it to "The Wire."
  6. The best show on television.
  7. If there ever was a series that makes HBO a necessity, "The Wire" is it.
  8. 100
    Brilliant, scathing, sprawling, The Wire has turned our indifference to urban decay into a TV achievement of the highest order.
  9. Reviewed by: Brian Lowry
    100
    When television history is written, little else will rival "The Wire," a series of such extraordinary depth and ambition that it is, perhaps inevitably, savored only by an appreciative few.
  10. The best series on TV, period. [15 Sep 2006, p.63]
  11. 100
    One of the finest TV shows ever made.
  12. This season of “The Wire” will knock the breath out of you.
  13. If you stick with it, you will be rewarded with some of the most compelling, provocative drama ever produced for television.
  14. 100
    So is "The Wire" as good as ever? Perhaps even better.
  15. Reviewed by: Keith Uhlich
    100
    David Simon and his writers... aren't out to change the world; the slippery slope of civilization is already in place on The Wire and Simon is just out to document how each and every person survives. Or doesn't, as this season quite devastatingly proves.
  16. 100
    A vibrant, masterful work of art, HBO’s novelistic urban saga The Wire is the best show on television.
  17. 100
    Yes, it's tough to trace the relationships between various ranks within the police department and the city and state governments, but that doesn't mean this is an incredibly serious drama it takes a degree in literature to understand. "The Wire" is funny and odd and sad and, above all, engrossing.
  18. Reviewed by: James Poniewozik
    90
    They have done what many well-intentioned socially minded writers have tried and failed at: written a story that is about social systems, in all their complexity, yet made it human, funny and most important of all, rivetingly entertaining.
  19. Reviewed by: Tony Norman
    90
    "The Wire" is as complex a picaresque as one is likely to find this side of Dickens.
  20. 88
    Despite high praise, there are two serious problems: (a) The first new episode is crazy confusing, and (b) over the course of the first batch of episodes, the story lines don't develop quickly enough.
  21. It just might be the kids, the ones who grow up too soon in the hard world of "The Wire," who steal opening night.
User Score
9.5

Universal acclaim- based on 666 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 2 out of 258
  1. Oct 22, 2010
    10
    Season 4 of the Wire is the best season of any television series. Period. While the Wire has always been a great TV show, with moreSeason 4 of the Wire is the best season of any television series. Period. While the Wire has always been a great TV show, with more authenticity, in-depth writing, complex characters, superb acting and gripping storytelling in one episode than most shows produce over their entire span. The first three seasons are all amazing, and the storylines from the previous seasons continue to grow in the fourth season, but they cannot in any way prepare you for the sublime and heartbreaking new storyline following four youth, the school system, and the corner. I can't use enough superlatives to describe this season: Perfect! Riveting! Flawless! The apex of art, entertainment and social commentary on TV (and perhaps any medium)!!!!

    If you find the first few episodes disorienting, don't worry, it will all make sense â
    Full Review »
  2. Mar 3, 2012
    10
    I've watched many, many television shows, and I can confidently affirm that The Wire is by far the greatest achievement in the history of TV.I've watched many, many television shows, and I can confidently affirm that The Wire is by far the greatest achievement in the history of TV. I won't bother typing up a long and well thought-out review because I'm sure the previous users have done a fair enough job of describing this show, but I will say this: no other television series compares to The Wire, and it will be a long time before another one does. Full Review »
  3. Nov 22, 2011
    10
    The Wire is a challenging series, there is no doubt about that. As you watch through a season, and through multiple seasons, you can feelThe Wire is a challenging series, there is no doubt about that. As you watch through a season, and through multiple seasons, you can feel yourself being retrained on how to watch a television show. It can be an uncomfortable experience at times, but the show is absolutely worth it, and you'll have a hard time watching "regular" TV afterwards.

    Season 4 is quite possibly the best season of the series. The picture it paints of inner-city youth and their public schools is tragic, but refreshing in its honesty. Like all institutions portrayed in The Wire, the school system is in decline, and there is no miraculous, Hollywood happy ending on the horizon. Which is the whole point of the season, really. Having introduced us in previous seasons to a cast of gangsters, drug addicts, scam artists, disillusioned civil servants, and self-serving politicians, The Wire now shows us where these people come from, how the system produces and reproduces them. And that, ultimately, is what makes The Wire so challenging; it is unflinching in its portrayal of the characters -- and, ultimately, of all of us -- as cogs in a run-down machine which doesn't care about anything but perpetuating itself. This is certainly not what most people are looking for when they sit down to watch TV. But viewers who are willing to devote serious attention and an open mind to this season of The Wire are rewarded with a thought-provoking storyline, engrossing characters, and truly impressive acting -- including some of the most talented child actors you will ever see.
    Full Review »