Mis-Wired: Problems with the Best TV Drama

God, but I love The Wire, the HBO series that aired from 2002 to 2008. I’m just over halfway through the series, and while I’ve enjoyed every episode, I enjoyed each season even more. The plotting, the characters, the dialogue – it’s great art, not least for its incredible realism. David Simon, Ed Burns, and the other writers deserve immense credit for creating such excellent work.

A show this layered with detail and nuance must have a few little glitches, though, right?I’m sure Baltimoreans would recognize many of them, while cops, lawyers, and criminals would recognize others. Me, I’m just a grantwriter, so I can only find a factual problem every now and then – and then only pretty nerdy ones.

Toward the end of season 3, for instance, the drug lord Stringer Bell, trying to legitimize himself, is told to seek federal grants for his expanding real-estate activities. The next day, he has the grant applications pretty much ready to go. As his political patron would say, “Haaaaaaaiiiiiiiiiiillllllllll no!”

Then, at the beginning of season 4, an academic from a Baltimore university enlists a former cop to find 18-21 year old black men who could participate in the academic’s anti-crime project, which (we’re told) has a half-million dollar grant behind it. These subjects prove too hard to handle, though, so the academic adjusts on the fly and, later the same day, selects a new population, 12-14 year old kids. Again, no. Where’s the institutional review board approval he’d need to change his research project so drastically? Where are the approvals from his grants office and funder to do so?

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