by wjw on August 31, 2007

So why is it that a couple of my favorite TV series are about drugs?

The Wire is my current candidate for best dramatic series ever. Covering the entire spectrum of people concerned with the distribution and sale of narcotics (the cops, the gangsters, the courts, and the neighborhood), The Wire is essentially about poisoned institutions. The cops are helpless against the cop system, the lawyers are screwed by the legal system, and the criminals are totally fucked by their own criminal culture.
The Wire is a writer’s show. It’s the creation of former Baltimore police reporter David Simon. Simon previously created Homicide: Life on the Streets and The Corner, the latter with his writing partner, the former cop Ed Burns. The episodes are full of stories that can only have come from real experience on the beat.
My only complaint is with the series’ ostensible main character, the detective McNulty. He’s a hard-drinking Irish cop with a history of wrecked relationships. Where have we seen this before? He’s the only cliche in the whole series.
Lately, courtesy of Netflix, I’ve checked out the first two series of Weeds. What most attracted me about the show is that while it’s ostensibly a family sitcom, in reality it’s a horrific tragedy of a family being destroyed. It’s as if Eugene O’Neill has taken up writing for the Family Network. The second series ended with pot-dealing housewife Nancy Botwin huddled in the kitchen of her safe house while killers from two separate gangs pointed large-caliber weapons at her.
I’m ready for the third season, Mr. DeMille.
As for why a couple of my favorite series are about drugs— maybe it’s because TV is finally allowed to tell the truth.

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