Stop talking about how we should stop talking about The Wire
GQ recently came out with a list of “The New Rules of TV,” and for the most part the piece isn’t more than typical monthly periodical filler - flippant, fluffy and hastily put together. But one of their “rules” particularly annoyed me because it reinforces an idea that has become increasingly common of late despite its stupidity: People only like The Wire to make themselves look good.
Specifically, the heart of the GQ blurb boils down to this quote: “Wire fans don’t just love the show, they love what they think loving the show says about them—which is basically that they are smart, have good taste, and care about black people.” The piece also mentions that it has been five years since the show ended (Five years! Don’t we all know that it’s pointless to talk about anything that didn’t just immediately happen!?) and that The Wire is no longer an underdog struggling to be appreciated, as well as that some idiots try to use the show to pick up dates on OKCupid.
As I said, this is largely a puff piece that should hold absolutely zero weight in the realm of public discourse. But the concept of “UGH, COME ON HAVEN’T WE TALKED ABOUT THE WIRE ENOUGH ALREADY” grates on me, considering I hear a lot more people who make those kind of comments than I hear extolling how The Wire puts them in a state of zen with the African-American inner city experience.
In particular, I hear a lot of opposition to Wire fandom as a deflection from people who have never watched the show before and just don’t want to put any effort into watching it. The GQ writer here isn’t included in that group, but he/she is adding to a well of ammunition for people who just want to dismiss the show as some false messiah of television. In reality, most fans of The Wire like it because it’s a terrific show. It’s riveting, it’s exquisitely made and, yes, we think it actually has something important to say, which I doubt would cause much ruckus if The Wire were a novel or a play or even a movie. But the fact that people react that way to a TV show? Some people can’t comprehend that, and they automatically assume that those who appreciate the show take it too seriously. Those that take that appreciation to the obnoxious extremes of throwing self-congratulatory pick-up lines in their dating profile are the extremes, not the norm.
So for the record, I’m going to go on chatting about The Wire, even if it is a whole five years since the show ended. After all, this is the show that will likely go down as the Citizen Kane of television, and 70 years later you don’t get looked down upon for praising Orson Welles.