Apr 7 2011

Redemption in The Wire


I just finished all five seasons of The Wire on DVD.  The Wire is an astounding artistic achievement and devastating social commentary. I think its going to take  several blog posts to discuss it’s effect on me. As profound as it is profane, fans of Dickens, Shakespeare, Classical Dramas, or the Bible will find echoes of those literary themes and characters in The Wire. It deals with big themes like power, compromise, deception, and redemption in the lives of broken people in a broken society. Baltimore is full of the social ills that plague modern society.

The beginning credits run to Tom Waits’ song Way Down in the Hole. Lyrics about about holding on to Jesus, avoiding temptation, and keeping the devil “way down in the hole” are sung against a backdrop of flawed characters and gritty street life. Many reviewers have identified the City of Baltimore as the main character in The Wire. The 2nd  and 3rd chapters of The Revelation of John call out churches in particular cities for sinful behavior, compromise, and sins of omission in light of the evils in each of those cities. Just as in the cities described in the Biblical Revelation, the devil is on the loose in Baltimore and its institutions are unable to stem the tide of evil. Season one establishes the police and drug cultures and carries their stories throughout all five seasons of the series. Different artists sing the theme song as subsequent seasons explore corruption and temptation in different city institutions: season two- unions; season three- city hall; season four- schools; and season five- the media. Continue reading