Credit where it is due: after a mid-season wobble, which shook my devotion to the foundation, The Wire has come together for the conclusion. David Simon's incredibly ambitious drama of crime and corruption in a decaying Baltimore has been compared by Slate's Jacob Weisberg, among others, to the sprawling novels of the 19th century. Most creators would be flattered to be mentioned in the same sentence as Charles Dickens. Simon, who combines cynicism about the possibility of social change with complete faith in the importance of his art, makes grander literary references in a recent radio interview on NPR's Fresh Air. "We've been stealing from a lot of the Greek tragedies... Hubris, a willingness to challenge the gods, a willingness to engage in an argument against one's fate: the same things that Antigone or Oedipus struggled with we gave the same sort of dynamic to our characters... The gods are the post-industrial institutions of modern life. Whoever you serve. Wherever your paycheck comes from. Whatever calling you thought you had. On The Wire, there is every possibility it will betray you." Talk about hubris: such a claim would normally invite ridicule. But Simon, a frustrated former journalist, has defied the fate he's assigned to The Wire's heroes: the former journalist challenged the gods of television with a show that shouldn't have worked, and they let him succeed. After the jump, a clip from the interview with Fresh Air's Terry Gross.
The finale of The Wire airs on HBO, this Sunday at 8pm.