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

Universal acclaim- based on 639 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 16 out of 639

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  1. Oct 22, 2010
    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 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
  2. Mar 3, 2012
    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. Expand
  3. Sep 24, 2012
    I think it is around season 4 that I realized The Wire is the greatest television series ever produced, and that no other TV show would match what David Simon achieved. In the 1st season, the game is introduced, carefully following a police investigation into the drug wars in West Baltimore. The 2nd season introduces the working class/union of Baltimore. 3rd season incorporated the politics. Each season, something new is learned about these institutions, and it is very often something we wish we didn't know. In the 4th season, Simon's exploration of the school system was eye-opening on so many levels, and essentially documented proof of why many of these kids (or so-called students) end up in the streets as either a player or a feen. It is the tragedy of city government, and the corrupt use of these institutions. The acting was phenomenal (especially from the 4 kids), the story was grand, and the execution was immaculate. That has been the case for every season of the wire, and I can't imagine any other show will be this powerful while trying to maintain a world of pure realism. Expand
  4. Aug 11, 2010
    The show just got more and more powerful as it went into Season 4, which focused on the school system, bringing in four school kids who found themselves in the crosshairs of situations and decisions that were sad and frustrating to behold â
  5. Oct 6, 2011
    Without this show, I would be dead from suicide. But since this show exists and since this season as well does exist, I am still here. It's better than some of the greatest movies of all time. In **** Credible
  6. Jun 18, 2012
    Season 4 of The Wire is the single greatest season of television ever. The depth, complexity, balance, and ambition of the story make it remarkable. And, despite its stark portrayal of a mostly bleak world, it is massively satisfying and entertaining. The brilliant poignancy of the story about the eighth graders raises season 4 a notch above the The Wire's other seasons, which are all amazing in their own right. I'm sad for all the television watchers who have never seen it. I wish I could score this higher than "10." Somehow a "10" still seems inadequate. Expand
  7. Mar 3, 2013
    I have never quite been able to decide whether I prefer Season Three or Four of The Wire, either way the thirteen episodes contained in this boxset continue to provide the most realistic and fascinating look at the drug trade and the culture that surrounds it ever seen on screen.
  8. Jun 26, 2011
    For the longest time, I thought The Sopranos was the greatest show to ever hit television. And then a friend recommended The Wire. Each season is a powerhouse, but Season 4 is Shakespearean. Epic on all levels and told with the finest delivery, HBO doesn't need to remind us they have the eye for near perfect television. The best season from (probably) the best television series of all time.
  9. Jul 5, 2011
    Season 4 sees this giant mosaic essay on the death of American capitalism at its best. The characters who have fascinated us in earlier series are still portrayed with panache and they are joined by an ensemble of child actors who produce extraordinary performances. It is the children who steal our focus this time. Their struggle to survive in a city that has abandoned them is profoundly affecting. Dukie, Randy, Namond and Michael, friends in middle school, are the Tom and Huck of 21st century America. The script is smart, never simple, witty and gritty and the storyline refuses to pander to the viewer demand for moralising and neat resolution.
    It is too early to say, but assertions that this is the best TV series for a decade may well be true.
  10. Nov 1, 2011
    The most perfect season of the greatest TV show ever. Although many of the child actors have been taken from the streets or whatever, they're all still very impressive. The school system is portrayed like it is. The Wire offers great wisdom season after season. The best ever.
  11. Nov 22, 2011
    The 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. Expand
  12. May 11, 2013
    The. Best. Single. Television. Season. Ever. Created. It is breathtaking and heartbreaking. A flawless piece of art.
  13. Jan 30, 2012
    Just wanted to share a bit. I have just talked to a former Baltimore undercover narcotics officer today, a man with 30 years of experience. And he told me this show might as well be a documentary. To me - that is saying something.
  14. Mar 13, 2013
    The Wire is unchallenged as the best and most ambitious show television has to offer. And Season 4 of The Wire is, simply put, its best season. 10/10.
  15. Apr 26, 2014
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. It's hard to believe, but The Wire, in Season 4, is somehow even better than it was in Season 3. When I first heard about this Season following middle school students, I was more than a little sceptical. For one thing, school settings are very often inaccurate, and I couldn't help but wonder why I would care about people that are quite a bit younger than me. However, my biggest concern was the child actors. At least for high school shows, you can often get away with hiring people in their earlier 20s. Of course, you absolutely cannot do this for middle school. And let's face it: how many times have people lauded a child actor? Even if the young'ins' portrayals were even slightly off, it would disrupt The Wire's otherwise brilliant cast.

    Looking back, I should've known that this was The Wire. The show would not settle for anything less than the best in terms of storytelling, dialogue, characterization, drama and, of course, acting. I can't say enough about Maestro Harrell (Randy), Tristan Wilds (Michael), Julito McCullum (Namond), and Jermaine Crawford (Dukie). With all due respect to adult actors in the industry, these kids take their respective challenging roles and do it better than almost everyone else. Seriously, these actors could just as easily have won Emmys as the series' adults have. Kudos to the casting team who picked the right kids to properly reflect the characters' respective emotional journeys.

    Yes, that's journeys with an 's'. Unlike so many shows that depict school settings, The Wire shows each individual kid as a separate entity, rather than as a group in a stereotypical social standing. There's no nerds struggling to fit in here. Instead, we're focusing on the edgy badass kids that are in high concentration in the drug filled streets of West Baltimore. Thanks to this, we're given deep character studies into how each person must deal with their living conditions in the ghetto.

    At the beginning of the series, Randy is the one who has it all together. He manages to have a good heart, a good family life, and faces little trouble with law enforcement. We slowly see his life turn upside down in a chain of events that starts with him unintentionally assisting in a murder. His tale unfortunately accurately shows us how fragile happiness is. On a side note, Carver wasn't the most likeable character in Season 1. Since then though, his character has taken a huge stride. The frustration and sadness that Seth Gilliam shows after letting Randy go to a group home was heartbreakingly believable. I sincerely hope that Randy can make it out of that home alive, but that is seeming increasingly unlikely.

    Meanwhile, we've got a bright young man in Dukie, who otherwise can't catch a break in life. He finds temporary satisfaction thanks to Prez, but his life quickly gets worse than it ever was. He's forcibly taken out of Prez's class, while his house gets evicted. Now, he must live with Michael, who's psychological health is now in question.

    Michael and Namond both show how 'the streets' can effect your very lifestyle. With Namond, we're given an optimistic outlook on change, and with Michael, a very pessimistic and depressing outlook. Namond starts out as a character whose bark is worse than his bite. We see him take out is frustrations on others, as he struggles to be the man of his house like his father, Wee-Bey, was. Colvin saw his vulnerability but also realized that this kid could be something more; the streets were doing nothing but hold him back. So unlike the rest of the kids, under Colvin's guidance, we have a positive feeling that Namond's life will be much better in the future.

    On the other side of the coin, Michael is a character that isn't too unlike Randy initially. He's smart, and his home life isn't as bad as some of the others'. But when Bug's father comes back, his personality takes a complete turnaround. What we saw in the final episodes was a personality akin to Namond's in the first episodes. The two fascinatingly swap personalities. However, what we see in Michael is something more frightening than Namond ever was. This new Michael isn't afraid to kill in cold blood or beat a kid senseless.

    Instead of the intriguing juxtaposition between the drug trade and the police force, this Season takes a harrowing look at the modern education system. Again, the school system is all about political gain, rather than doing what they set out to do. We see the newly elected Carcetti desperately trying to fix both the police force and the schools. The tough restrictions that Carcetti must deal with make us really think that perhaps Royce wasn't doing such a bad job after all.

    I've heard people say The Wire is out of date. I have to strongly disagree to that sentient. Yes, there are references to real-life events in the mid-2000s, but the issues that they present are still highly relevant to this day. Thanks, Dave Simon and the cast/crew of The Wire for this stunningly realistic series.
  16. Mar 2, 2013
    Only someone insane would find nothing to appreciate in the most perfect TV season in history. Beautiful and utterly engaging in every sense. Also features one of the most entrancing finales ever.
  17. Sep 6, 2013
    ¿What is that smell? Smells soooo rare Hmmmm I don't know maybe is......no I don't think so.....Or yes....yes is true smells like THE BEST TELEVISION SERIES OF ALL TIMES. Period.
  18. Jul 19, 2013
    simply the standard by which all other shows are judged. i have the sopranos slightly higher, but the wire holds quality quite well throughout and the quality is simply incredible. this is the story of a city told from the ground up. the first season is a dive into an immense world that just keeps getting deeper and deeper until you realise we are all part of the world beyond the wire and yet the city rolls on.

    this first season is judged on its own merits, easily a 10, and no amount of idiot middle class who love it because they were told to, despite never seeing the show, or counter counter culture descreditors are going to make me forget that.

    1 is a ten based on its own merits.
    the series is a 10 based on its own merits.
    the weaker seasons are a 10 based on the fact they are that much better than anything else on tv, at what they do, with a very few key exceptions.

    another 10, id give it 9.75 on this season.
  19. Mar 27, 2014
    Temporada cuatro de The Wire es increible, introduce a cuatro jovenes que estan en su etapa escolar y como ver como algunos caen y otros ceden es a la vez devastadora y emocional, tambien introduce el sistema educativo y como las instituciones manipulan tal sistema con tal de lograr sus objetivos y despojando a sus estudiantes, su humanidad. Es la temporada perfecta para una serie perfecta.
  20. May 25, 2014
    nothing will ever be this good on tv!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  21. Sep 30, 2013
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. The Wire is simply the fattest TV show one could ever experience.By fat I mean heaviest and rife with narrative ,characters ,social commentary and much more but never pretentious or knee-jerking,instead slow-brooding ,obsessive and compulsive with spectacular attention to detail and execution.When I first saw The Wire at age 17 I thought to myself "No Sopranos and OZ are the greatest TV dramas Add Breaking Bad and Deadwood to that list.I held this believe because I thought the Wire wasn`t just a drama but an actual satirical real life documentary of some kind and didn`t fit the same genre.It simply feels as if every character are from an actual source not just actors on sets.
    Still today for me it not only pushed the envelope of intelligent TV so close to the bone of reality but regarding how under rated it is I must praise it for how it it pioneered and executed so many unique element and excelled and succeeded at it which no other show has ever even attempted to do.Kudos for OZ and Sopranos for laying down the ground work though.
    There is method in this madness of The Wire but the biggest problem is the elements that makes the Wire so compelling to watch ,so important, is the same things that make it unconventional,unpopular and too difficult for the weaker minds.One of its main themes in a later season ,a commentary on man`s need for simplification is ironically the thing that made this show`s initial popularity low to average.

    But it also took risks in ways no other series have ever even attempted to do.Some things that stand out in this show from others are borderline unfathomable huge cast of child actors that wipe the floor with anything any other show has, period.The 'younglings' in Season 4 man,all of them really. A majority black cast that delivers time and again(leave no room for bias!).
    Great acting and sub-plots that always seem to tie in and have a purpose,every sentence has its purpose.There are so many characters and each and every character knowing or not knowing about another happens logically in the narrative. No exceptional characters with intriguing lives smarter than the average Joe and or mystery job in past,super depression and self-loathing etc. what you see is what you get.No or little inner thoughts revealed or reminiscing the past via editing,almost everything happens at that pivotal moment in the characters lives.The character are all trapped in some way trying to make sense of it all even when they are loosing it themselves.No single central characters,perhaps the only single most constant trinity of characters the city 'the game' and death.
    An abundance of outdoor scenes and on location shots with many actors from said location and even some actors being real convics, it is a story about a war right.You will see so much of Bodymore. A novelistic approach akin to Charles Dickens style,a deep and complex commentary on society and social systems,which allows for perhaps the darkest ,most realistic and intelligent drama ever created,And possibly the most logical drama.Things just make sense even when they don`t .

    Where the other above mentioned great shows use lots of dream sequences,foreshadowing,montages,music cues ,flashback etc to pre-chew and spoon feed in order to simplify the plot for the viewer "Okay when this edited overdubbed music plays feel this way,because of what just happened in the scene the Wire goes the other way and deals a raw unbiased grey version of its settings and characters where the viewer can see either side of the wire,whether it is right or wrong for any party.It never judges.Each character isn`t simply a well written entity nor moved about the chess board by the shows creators like gods but instead and I will make no secret about it a sense of urgency in a complete voyeuristic view of all the character`s life are given to the audience,in a similar sense Rear window did.I mean that non-sexually but in context of espionage and points of views.The Wire is so aware that the world is in turmoil and chaos.The topic here of objectivism vs subjectivism is debatable but what you see is what you get .I think The Wire is aware of this and sometimes those character stare back at you.And it isn`t truly until the very end when the very last scene of the last episode ended that one realizes that the greatest and most important achievements in TV history has been made...

    The fourth wall between its voyeuristic/espionage viewer and its character have finally been broken and it itsn`t so much a difference any more that we got pulled into the world of the Baltimore and its morality and mortality as much it has spilled over into ours and said ,this isn`t a show this is reality,this is happening no even when the final credits roll.

    Readers if you miss the Wire you will probably never get the same opportunity again to see something so grand and special off this same magnitude.There will never be a second Wiretap.
  22. Mar 15, 2014
    Every season of The Wire brings something new, but Season 4 brings an unparalleled look at what really matters in life by taking us to where it all starts: the schools. Ostensible star character Jimmy McNulty essentially disappears from the show, replaced by a bunch of unknown middle-schoolers. Their equally unknown actors deliver powerful performances as we watch this close-knit group diverge down different paths in life and ask why.

    The existing drug ring, investigation, and political storylines continue their track, and are no less riveting. A new wave of violence comes over the city with the rise of Marlo's gang, rendering many of the show's toughest moments. Candidate Carcetti's idealism starts to wane as the realities of politics unveil themselves. Prez takes up a second career as a teacher and serves as our window into the children's world. Herc walks in on a politician getting a blowjob.

    However, the endearing image of the season is the new opening titles, with the song now rendered by the children of Baltimore themselves, which fades out to the sound of an opening bell. It's time to get schooled.

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. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Reviewed by: Matt Roush
    This is TV as great modern literature, a shattering and heartbreaking urban epic about a city (Baltimore) rotting from within.