‘The Wire’ Stands Alone, James Poniewozik (behind paywall).
After 20 years, the classic drama is much praised and rarely imitated. For a series based on the idea that institutions don’t change, that’s fitting.
When critics get to assessing a classic TV show, we have a weird tendency to turn into evolutionary biologists. We pull out the old television family tree and gauge the series’s achievement by how many branches we can trace back to it — how many series modeled one or another aspect on it. “Dragnet,” “The Simpsons,” “Lost” — you shall know them by their copycats.
And sure, influence is one measure of greatness. But so is inimitability. There is the painter who leaves behind a school of disciples, but there is also the artist who sees a color that no one has envisioned before or since.
“The Wire” premiered on HBO on June 2, 2002. In the two decades since, its reputation has only grown, as has its audience. It is one of those series, like the original “Star Trek,” that future generations will refuse to believe struggled with low ratings during its entire run. (Let alone that it was nominated for an absurd two Emmys, and won exactly none.)
But has anyone made another “Wire” since?
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