I don’t love everything Haim does but I really like their style (musically and otherwise) and the whole Southern California art school vibe they exude.
The fifth and final season of The Wire focuses on the staff of The Baltimore Sun, with editors and reporters serving as fictionalized stand-ins for David Simon’s former co-workers at the same publication.
Simon paints unflattering portraits of the paper’s top editors, who are more eager to win prizes than practice ethical journalism. Tom McCarthy (who later went on to direct and co-write the Oscar-winning Spotlight) plays a Stephen Glass-esque reporter who is celebrated by the bosses even when the accuracy of his stories is questioned.
Popular opinion holds that Season Four of The Wire was the show’s best, and I can’t argue otherwise. Show creator David Simon turned his attention to Baltimore’s struggling public school system, as experienced by several teachers and particularly a group of four young friends.
Those boys, growing up in the inner city, are in an environment designed to make them addicts or criminals before they become adults. Whether any of them can navigate that minefield successfully is the question that drives this powerful season.
Season Three of The Wire returned to the network of cops and drug dealers who dominated the first season. Idris Elba’s drug kingpin Stringer Bell, one of the most charismatic villains ever, moved to center stage as he tried to get into legitimate business and ran into a buzz saw of truly villainous politicians and real estate moguls.
The dominant storyline in this season was a bold experiment by a soon-to-retire police major: the essential legalization of drugs in one small corner of the city, where the police force agreed to look the other way as long as the dealers steered clear of the rest of town.
Season One introduced on a special crime task force utilizing the titular wire to build a case against the city’s major drug runners. That group of cops and lawyers form the spine of the whole series. But the smaller universe of characters in that season were a group of “corner boys” caught between their criminal bosses and the police.
A decade ago, B.J. Novak penned a MySpace post titled “I will watch The Wire when I watch The Wire!” aimed at all of the people — friends and strangers alike — who go on and on about how you can’t miss such an excellent show.
I’ve been on both sides of that equation, having blathered endlessly about the greatness of Breaking Bad, Friday Night Lights and many other shows, but also fatigued by the endless proselytizing by others about their own favorite — House of Cards, say, or The Sopranos and, yes, The Wire.
My desert island countdown continues (see last Monday’s post for the full explanation).
Desert Island Musical Artists – Honorable Mention – Ben Folds
Ben Folds is another slam-dunk for this list who nevertheless failed to make the top five because, well, five is just a ridiculously small number. I might have swapped him in for Elvis Costello, but the breadth of genres Costello has covered won the day.