It has become a cliche to say “the city is the star”, but with The Wire there’s no way around it. Most place-specific TV shows, from Dallas to EastEnders, do little more than allude to their setting and architecture in the title sequence, then retreat to the safety of the set; The Wire, on the other hand, is shot in unadorned, real-life Baltimore. It shows you the parts of the city you never usually see: the ports, prisons, courthouses, boxing gyms, discount stores and, most of all, the shabby inner-city streets where the war between the police and the drug gangs is endlessly waged. Just as the detectives in the show look for the hidden connections between the city’s problems – tapping phones, following paper trails, deciphering gangster codes – so, too, the series maps the city’s hidden workings and reveals its underlying problems.
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