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W is for. . ..

This is about two disparate TV shows. One is now history, the other continues. Both focused on drug dealers in the early 21st Century. The shows are The Wire and Weeds. I’m not going to promote the latter, and as the former has finished it’s run, I’ll just state the obvious. If you want them they are available for purchase or rent.

Weeds has as its premise, upper middle class wife in California, suddenly widowed, & heavily in debt becomes a pot dealer. In the most cloying flashbacks ever, her late husband is shown as some kind of saint. The barf factor is high and doesn’t stop. The writer(s) obviously got their street smarts from an old Starsky & Hutch show. This woman wouldn’t last a day in the real world of dopers. In fact, she’d more likely be a vic on a CSI slab, for a nice crossover sweeps stunt, those network humps love.

The cast, who I decline to mention by name, is so filled with cliched posers & over-acters, it appears that was the goal in casting them. It’s garbage, the kind of program that thinks having a cameo by Snoop Dog is the height of clever. There is a character named Snoop in The Wire. That Snoop is one of the scariest bitches in history. Not TV history—all of history. If only she’d shown up on that MILF Meets Dogg ep! Now that would’ve been stunt casting!

The Wire is nothing short of the best TV show ever. Sure it has cops, lawyers & drug dealers. The like of which has rarely been seen in a major television production. The writing & acting burned with verisimilitude. Partly because, some of those people were from the streets of Baltimore, where The Wire is set. Characters were multi-layered and had story arcs which went from the first episode of the first season to the last of the series, a five year span.

I’ve stated before, nothing on TV, especially the so called news is that real, all the time. No work of fiction puts you there, it just can’t do it. Even when you’re there, you miss some things. Life is Rashomon, like it or not. By accident, the news gets it correct occasionally. When a TV writer gives the extra effort to give the viewer a genuine catharsis, it’s as gratifying as it is rare.

The characters of The Wire are written and acted so well, you can’t help but care about even the bad guys. As with most good writing, it was a close call, who was good. No one was left without a flaw. Most of them the tragic kind. Any attempt to choose the standouts in this would virtually demand a cut & paste of the cast list. Even as I write this, I keep thinking of how to limit it to maybe three, and it’s impossible.

And there are astonishingly fluid relationships. Things you don’t see coming, even when you’re looking for it. Some of these actors created characters so indelible, they will be forever recognized. Sure, that happens a lot. But I assure you mostly it happens due to quantitative reasons. This is purely qualitative.

For me, there is more evil in a scene of Weeds where a leering Snoop Dogg is rapping how he’d like to fuck Mary Louise Parker, than any sociopathic hit Snoop executes in The Wire. She is doing her job from her POV, as we see it, a reprehensible job, given impetus by a world she didn’t create, just uses her regrettable skill to survive it. The teleplay of the other Snoop has him being him all right, but it’s a contrived scene born of the fevered imagination of a lameass, sitting in her SoCal dreamland.

Weeds, named after one of the many slang terms for marijuana, belongs in the weeds. The Wire, which is cop talk for a phone tap, electric with a message, pumped along a wire from the twisted soul of an inner city nightmare to the true heart of art.

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