• 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 614 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

Where To Watch

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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. Chicago Tribune
    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. Washington Post
    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. Boston Globe
    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. Detroit Free Press
    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. New York Daily News
    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: 66 out of 66
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 66
  3. Negative: 0 out of 66
  1. Feb 18, 2012
    10
    This is the best t.v. show ever made. It deserves only accolades. It goes beyond anything I've ever seen. Now when I sit down to watch a t.v.This is the best t.v. show ever made. It deserves only accolades. It goes beyond anything I've ever seen. Now when I sit down to watch a t.v. series I mourn for The Wire's depth and beauty. I will never give a 10 to anything else ever again, this is the standard for all shows to work from. To not give this a perfect score means you are either stupid or hit the wrong button. Case closed! Expand
  2. Apr 24, 2011
    10
    I am surprised to see that there is barely any recognition for this show, as it is literally a remarkable and poignant show. It hurts to seeI am surprised to see that there is barely any recognition for this show, as it is literally a remarkable and poignant show. It hurts to see that not even critics have taken their time to watch and comment on it. The show is a masterpiece. It is filled with decadence, drugs, politics, and many more things that I will leave for you, the audience to watch and see how it all develops. The Wire has to be one of the most realistic shows I have seen in television. I believe people rather avoid this one, due to its graphic portrayal of violence in the streets, the school system, and the corruption in politics. But you can't help it, when the dialogue is top notch! Smart scripting and acting make the show as real as you see it on the streets or hear it in the news every day. I cannot go on any further writing this review. It really is unfair, as I cannot say much to make homage to an amazing series. It is depressing at times, but very much a rewarding experience to follow through from start to end. 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. Sep 14, 2012
    10
    For those not in the know, The Wire is set in Baltimore and each season focuses on a different area of life in the city. The first seasonFor those not in the know, The Wire is set in Baltimore and each season focuses on a different area of life in the city. The first season revolves around a hastily put together police detail tasked with investigating the little known Barksdale drug empire. Led by Lieutenant Daniels (Lance Reddick) and the dedicated Jimmy McNulty (Dominic West), the detail are under pressure to make a minimal amount of low level charges quickly, however work is slow and painstaking difficult and the detail fight their superiors for more time to build a case using electronic surveillance.

    Should you watch it?
    The great thing about The Wire is....well, everything. The scope of the show is immense, the characters range from judges, DAs, police chiefs and detectives on one side to those encompassing the whole structure of Anton Barksdale's gang, from right hand men and enforcers to low level dealers. Each is involved in the story as it plays out slowly piece by piece. The line between good and bad is blurred at best, the police force is riddled with incompetence and those only concerned with self-preservation while the dealers are a well-organised mixture of cold-blooded killers and morally conflicted teens who know no other way of life. Not to mention Omar (Michael K. Williams), the gay stick-up man who terrorises local drug stash houses. Who's listening?
    The Wire is the ultimate definition of a slow-burner but with hour long episodes the plot begins to unravel soon enough and rewards are plenty for those patient during the initial episodes. Fans of David Simon's other works like Treme will have no problem adapting to the pace.

    Did I mention that the acting, script and music are also top notch? Best line..."If you come at the king, you best not miss".

    I am a huge fan of both The Soprano's and The Shield, and the first season of The Wire comes very close if not better than the best moments of these two. It deserves all the credit it receives and more.
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  5. May 28, 2015
    10
    The Wire is the best series I've come across. Breaking Bad gets close, but The Wire still wins out.
    I can not believe how underrated it was
    The Wire is the best series I've come across. Breaking Bad gets close, but The Wire still wins out.
    I can not believe how underrated it was back when it first came out!
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  6. Feb 10, 2011
    10
    The greatest achievement in television history. In five years, I never heard one single exchange of dialogue in this show that wasn't whollyThe greatest achievement in television history. In five years, I never heard one single exchange of dialogue in this show that wasn't wholly believable. I have had my fill of cop, doctor and lawyer shows over the years,but The Wire is so much more than that. It navigates complex story lines between the drug dealers, the school system, the entrie heirarchy of the police force, the politicians, addicts, media and what have you with tremendous ease. Best show ever. Expand
  7. Sep 26, 2016
    8
    Came into the wire quite late, 2014/2015 maybe. Was taken by the series right away. Something about ugly people on TV, makes you kinda feelCame into the wire quite late, 2014/2015 maybe. Was taken by the series right away. Something about ugly people on TV, makes you kinda feel the story has some reality to it. The last season really could have been left out but it did complete the cycle for the show. Expand

See all 66 User Reviews

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