HBO’s The Wire

The Wire is an American crime drama. Produced by HBO, it is widely considered to be one of the greatest televisions shows of all time by critics. Set in Baltimore, Maryland (United States,) the series to date has comprised of five seasons, each looking at a different aspect of life in the city. The first season concentrated on a gang with aspirations to become a crime syndicate, the second season concentrated on unions and the docks of Baltimore, the third season concentrated on the political process, the fourth season on the school system and the fifth season on journalistic practices.

In addition to the new focus, there are various story arcs running through multiple seasons – and the main cast tends to be present in some, if not all, of the seasons.

The series stars Dominic West, Amy Ryan, Idris Elba, John Doman, Andre Royo, Aiden Gillan and Seth Gilliam among others.


The Wire is considered a crime drama and a serial drama. It was created by writer and former police reporter David Simon.

Originally, the plot was going to be a fictionalisation of Simon’s former writing partner’s time as a homicide detective. The partner, Ed Burns, spoke of his time on the surveillance team, as well as problems of bureaucracy within the Baltimore Police Department. These would go on to be major plot driving points throughout the series.

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The show would morph into something much wider over time. David Simon, Robert F. Colesberry and Nina Kostroff Noble would go on to be executive producers at various points throughout the show’s run, and the producers included Ed burns, Karen L Thorson, Joe Chappelle, George Pelecanos, and Eric Overmyer.

The show was shot on a single camera setup, and each episode lasted between 55 and 60 minutes, with the exception of the series finale, which lasted for 93 minutes. The production company in charge was Blown Deadline Production, and the hannel it aired on was HBO. The picture formats were 4:3, yet the show was later remasted in 16:9.

“Way Down In The Hole” is the theme tune for the song, yet it appears in various guises – with a different version used for the title credits in each series.

The show had a total of 60 episodes and its run lasted from June 2002 until March 2008.

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Whilst there are over-arching stories across the seasons, The wire is notable for its distinct approach to storytelling over a season  – in each one, it concentrates on a different aspect of life in Baltimore, Maryland. Here, we will list each season and give a highlight of what the season was about.

Season One

Season One focuses on the police and their attempts to dismantle the Barksdale crime organization. The series introduces a new unit to the Baltimore police department – one that uses Wire Taps and attempts to break down organized crime – specifically the Barksdale Organization – in the city of Baltimore. The season also introduces a number of characters from the crime syndicate, including Avon Barksdale, head of the gang, and his right-hand man, Stringer Bell.

Central themes are the drug trafficking business, unbridled capitalism and both apathy and corruption in the police department.

Season Two

Season Two concentrates on the ports of Baltimore. The season introduces Beadie Russell, who works with the unit formed in Season One. The issues for the police involve trafficking through the ports, as well as potential issues with union workers and the corruption of the union in the docks. Stevedores play major characters in the season, as do a Greek organized crime gang that are involved with trafficking. The Barksdale Organization continues to operate on the periphery.

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Season Three

Season Three concentrates on the political process. It sees the Barksdale Organization attempt to get involved in real estate in order to clean their money and legitimize their operations, with varying success. It shows corruption in the mayoral election, and attempts by the political class to create a haven for drug users which cleans up the city. Also with limited success.


Season Four

Season Three introduced a competitor to the Barksdale Organization – the Stanfield Organization, led by Marlo Stanfield. Season Four explores this gang in more detail, as well as introducing a new plot point; the education system. This involves four new cast members playing boys from the school system in West Baltimore. The show describes how youngsters become involved in drug trafficking through the school system.

Season Five

The fifth and final season of The Wire focuses on media consumption and journalism. This is true to the writer of the show, David Simon, who was formerly a journalist investigating crime stories for the Baltimore Sun. The season, according to David Simon, deals with “what stories get told and what don’t and why it is that things stay the same.”

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The show sees a faked serial killer (in order to redirect limited city funds back into the police budget) start to gain attention, notoriety, and even contact the press. The press then run with the story, showing the corruption of the media, due to the serial killer being a fabrication.

The show ends with a conclusion and glimpse into the future of the many characters who have appeared on the show (at least, the ones who are not deceased.)


Notable Cast

Dominic West plays Jimmy McNulty.

Cedric Daniels is played by Lance Reddick.

Sonja Sohn plays Kima Greggs.

Seth Gilliam plays Ellis Carver.

Thomas “Herc” Hauk is played by Domenick Lombardozzi.

Bubbles is played by Andre Royo.

Lester Freamon is played by Clarke Peters.

Roland “Prez” Pryzbylewski is played by Jim True-Frost.

Avon Barksdale is played by Wood Harris.

Stringer Bell is played by Idris Elba.

D-Angelo Barksdale is played by Larry Gilliard Jr.

Hassan Johnson plays Wee-bey Brice.

Amy Ryan plays Beadie Russell.

Tray Chaney plays Poot.

Bodie is played by J.D. Williams.

Wallace is played by Michael B. Jordan.

Frank Sobotka is played by Chris Bauer.

Aiden Gillen plays Tommy Carcetti.


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