(See my review on season 1 on drugs, season 2 on unions, season 3 on politics, season 4 on education)
Unfortunately, it's Season 5, which comes after the absolutely brilliant Season 4. And I love bashing the media (even more so, the people who buy it). So Season 5 was actually a bit of a let down. The story surrounds our usual suspects (cops, drugs, politicians) and adds the media to the center of the story. Quick re-cap: discouraged cop creates a serial killer out of thin air so he can get resources to track his drug target. Morally corrupt reporter finds interests in this story and starts making up shit to sensationalize it and sell papers. Cutting to the end, cop sort of nails his drug target in his last case while reporter wins prizes for his writing.
Season 5 does a good job depicting the pressures the media feels. Take the reporter who spends a few weeks with Bubbles the "homeless" to write a heartfelt story about homelessness. That's a couple of weeks on a story. And a blogger can take that one page story and spin it in all sorts of direction in a few minutes of writing. Who is going to generate more news? Who is going to generate more revenue? (Obviously The Wire is going to be better than Josekin's blog, but you get what I mean...)
And then there's the demand for good reporting, as in reporting on topics that are fun and engaging. In words of the actors, "a blond disappearing from Aruba is more important than inner city drug killings." And editors of the Baltimore Sun is just reacting to that. And the national spotlight on them (due to coverage on the fake serial killer) encouraged them to focus even more on riding the story.
Alas, 10 episodes is too short for a real damning piece on all this. I'd recommend Season 5, but not nearly as much as Season 4.
The Wire, in order of my "recommendability": 4, 1, 3, 5/2.
Just for fun, a quick recap on how the characters did at the end (STOP reading if you still want to see the show...):
- McNulty: insubordinate cop brings down two drug orgs... then gets laid off from the force
- Daniels: straight up commander gets fucked over by mayor and resigned for family reasons
- Greggs and Sydnor: excellent detectives will continue to serve... as detectives
- Freamon: Good cop forced to fake serial killer so he can get the drug org... and forced to resign
- Herc and Carver: both are not very good at their jobs... one lands a great paying job as a double spy for both the police and lawyer who helps drug lords; the other continues up the police ladder
- Prez: inept cop can't handle a gun but can cracks codes by drug gangs; ends up as a teacher at some half hopeless school teaching math
- Rawls and Burrel: commisioners trying to be politicians succeeds some, fails some, never did much about crime and finally pushed out and onto better jobs
- Valchek: how this man became the newest commisioner still confuses me...
- Dee, Snoop, Bodie, Wee Bay, Bird, etc - all work for the drug organizations and none would make it to the C-level... and all in jail or dead.
- Chris: Marlo's right hand man kills with or without a conscious; life without parole.
- Stringer - he tried to walk away at the top; killed.
- Barksdale - he kept going back to the streets even though he made enough; life without parole.
- Prop Joe and Butch: I thought the middle man never would be touched; dead.
- Marlo: ruthless dealer forced out but the street is still in him; Free man.
- Omar: renegade stick up man tries to enforce his code on Marlo failes; dead.
- The Greek: Drug supplier remains drug supplier.
- Pearlman: always balacing between bringing a good case and her career, it seems that she will do well
- Levy: lawyer helping drug organizations barely survives... and will continue to serve gangs with a target on his back (from Pearlman)
- Carcetti: aspiring mayor has nice ideas... but falls to politics and turns out to be the same as his predecessors (less the corruption)
- Clay Davis and Royce: shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit is now my favorite phrase. Corrupt officials will continue their good lives.
- Templeton: better at writing fiction than reporting real news, he's headed for news prizes and headlines with his sensational and dishonest reporting
- Gus and Alma: Good and honest reporters relegated to irrelevance
- Michael Lee: smartest kid in Prez's class also tries to take care of his friends; he ends up on the street becoming like Omar - stick up man with a code robbing drug dealers
- Duke & Randy: both pretty smart kids, both end up homeless (one in the streets, one in a group home)
- Cutty: former gang muscle walks away from the game to run a boxing ring for kids on the brink; he's going to do okay
"Ain't no shame on holding on to grief, as long as you make room for other things too"Did I forget anyone?
The Wire is one of the best TV dramas I've ever seen. Maybe I will watch it again next week. Highly highly highly recommended.