Sometimes life imitates art. Sometimes art imitates life. And, sometimes, political appointees like art so much that it blends with what they’re trying to do in life.
Such was the case on Tuesday when Attorney General Eric Holder invited three actors from The Wire — Wendell Pierce (Detective Bunk Moreland), Sonja Sohn (Detective Kima Greggs), and Jim True-Frost (Detective-turned-teacher Roland Pryzbylewski) — to Washington DC to announce the Department of Justice’s new anti-drug initiative “to bring attention to the challenges faced by children and families affected by drug abuse and highlight the work being done across the country to address these issues.”
Before we continue, let’s back up and introduce some of you to the best show in television history, cribbed from a post we did back in January when Baltimore Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld blasted the show’s “unfair” portrayal of his fair city:
To call The Wire a crime drama would be like calling Walmart “that place to buy Halloween candy.”
The sixty episodes that make up the five seasons of The Wire paint the most stunningly in-depth portrait of a modern American city. It’s a better sociology class than anything on which you’d spend college tuition money.
Series creator David Simon brings us inside the Baltimore he knows from his decade-plus at the Sun newspaper, from his days researching the journalistic novel Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets.
The Wire isn’t a Chamber of Commerce effort: It shows us Baltimore’s stats-juking and incompetent police department, its corrupt yet ultimately powerless political leaders, its crumbling school system, its decaying working-class unions, its corner-cutting journalism, its bleak street corners, its ghetto lifestyle. Its wholesale systemic failure. It shows those of us who think of Baltimore as the Inner Harbor and Camden Yards what life on the other side might look like.
To be fair, every major American city has drugs and drug violence. Every major American city has street gangs. Every major American city has some element police brass that cares more about crime statistics than fighting crime. In short, every major American city has an unflattering side hidden under that rock. It just so happens that the best piece of televised or cinematic art from the 2000s publicized Baltimore’s.
So Holder’s bright idea for promoting this new initiative was to bring out three cast members of the famed show to draw attention to the event. Well, not only did he catch the attention of the show’s ardent fan base, but he also drummed up some more attention with a personal pitch to series creators David Simon and Ed Burns. According to Reuters, Holder made a direct appeal for more episodes! Or, at least, a film.
Wendell “Bunk” Pierce, who is now on the latest HBO hit “Treme”, chimed in with a “hear hear.”
It sounds like Holder wants a re-up.
Screw the real stuff. If Holder is successful, and there is movement on The Wire front, that will without a doubt be a greater achievement than anything he does in office.
If you’ve never seen The Wire in its entirety, it’s time to move everything down a peg on your Netflix queue and catch up quickly. For those that have, or for those of you who are huge fans of major spoilers, re-live the greatness of the series though the 100 (subjectively) best quotes as compiled by one superfan: