A brief reflection after completing “The Wire”

By Mohammad T.

Is injustice inevitable? Is structure indestructible?

In my pessimistic moments, I fear that my parents were right all along: don’t worry about that goodie stuff, they control too much and are too powerful; just take yours and be happy with what you have. You may accuse them of being too simple, or too Cold War, or maybe even conspiratorial. But it’s hard sometimes to disagree with them.

I just finished watching the last episode of ‘The Wire’, and I’ve come away surprised by my own reaction to the series. Like every character in this incredibly well-crafted, incredibly powerful series, I thought I would leave its world of make-believe Baltimore profoundly upset at the recycled detritus of contemporary American life — so much so that it would push me away from the dirty and inglorious work of invisible righteousness that I see among my many radical colleagues and friends, working hard every day to keep their spirit from pining away. Why keep at it, I should have thought? I will end, but the system survives. It creates many more of them, but sometimes it will malfunction and create a few of me. Why bother, no? I can snatch a few shiny trinkets from that same system, stay quiet, and live comfortably knowing that I took mine.

The cast of characters of this tragedy.

That’s probably what I should have thought, after completing this last episode. But I am reminded what the series’ creator, David Simon, in response to the many commentators ruffled at the apparent cynicism of the series: “It’s a love letter to Baltimore,” he said. So here’s to hoping that, with the support of my friends and family, that I don’t become so cynical as to think I’m above putting, as a wise man once urged, my body “upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, and upon all the apparatus of that machine.” Here’s to hoping that I can, after a long wait, reflect upon my work as a kind of broken love letter.

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