What's so genius about The Wire? Hmmmm, let's see.
Institutional dysfunction? Check. Institutional determination? Check. The failure of the drug war? Check. The Failure of capitalist system? Check. The tragic fate of the blue collar workers? Check. Idealism vs pragmatism? Check. Optimism vs cynicalism? Check. Lot's of sociological stuff (Cultural capital, social stratification, class consciousness, crime and rational choice theory, social conflict)? Check, check, check.
I've seen Twin Peaks (My favorite tv series until I watched The Wire), Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, True Detective, and a lot of great (or good and even bad) tv series, but all of them, in my opinion, are not at the same level with The Wire. You see, we live in a really cruel world, a reallyreallyreally cruel world. Only people with privilege can have a better life, and people who do not have privilege? A lot of them can only have a bitter life. The Wire season one deals with The Police vs Drugs Organisation, season two expands its scope by showing us the blue collar workers who struggle against cruel capitalist system, season three shows us some twist and turn in political system, season four examines the compromising school system, and season five, who has a lot of jaw-dropping moment in the whole series, reveals a brutal truth in media institution. Each season has different things to say, but they have one thing in common: All of the characters, who are affected by institution above them, just want to have a better life.
While most tv series are made for entertainment and escapism, The Wire portrays an atmosphere of almost and utmost reality, and it is not compromising anything. If you watch a horror film, sure you will be scared, but the scary effect is just momentary because they're not real, they're just some fictional monster/psycopath/killer at the screen, they will not harm you in any way, they just scare you. The Wire will make you scared as fuck because the story will make you think that any event in this series will harm you in real life as soon as you join any institution. After each episode, The Wire will make you contemplate for a moment and make you think disturbing things. Some thoughts that I had after each episode are: "What The Fuck? How in the blue hell people like THAT can do THAT? Why life sucks? Why political things are so dark and gritty and confusing? HOW SAD THAT CHARACTER FATE IS! Fuck, why your life is so sad and there's no any way to help you from that dark place?" And the most pop-up thought that I had while watching The Wire is: "Are there any solutions?"
This social sci-fi does not offer any solutions, it is only offer some disturbing questions. The good thing is, while The Wire will make you more cynical toward any institutions than before, The Wire will also make you more affectionate about people, and that's the thing I love from The Wire. It is fucking underated and needs to get more attention because there are only two people I know in my life who watched The Wire, and that's pretty sad considering The Wire got #5 spot in that IMDB TOP 250 tv series.
Anyway, The Wire is Obama favorite show and I'm glad that Mr. President has a good taste.