Complex TVMain MenuIntroductionVideos for IntroductionComplexity in ContextBeginningsVideos for Chapter 2AuthorshipCharactersComprehensionEvaluationSerial MelodramaOrienting ParatextsTransmedia StorytellingEndsVideo GalleryTable of ContentsJason Mittell06e96b1b57c0e09d70492af49d984ee2f68945deNew York University Press
THE WIRE's last season focuses on its own storytelling dynamics via the fictionalized version of The Baltimore Sun
12015-03-16T09:47:50-07:00Jason Mittell06e96b1b57c0e09d70492af49d984ee2f68945de13501The journalists give voice to both critiques and defenses of THE WIRE's own storytelling strategies.plain2015-03-16T09:47:50-07:00Critical Commons2008VideoThe Wire season 5HBO2015-03-16T16:43:49ZJason Mittell06e96b1b57c0e09d70492af49d984ee2f68945de
12015-03-16T09:49:32-07:00p. 330-331: THE WIRE1plain2015-03-16T09:49:32-07:00Season 5 asks us to reflect on the process of storytelling and our own culpability in privileging the big lie. The season’s most meta moment, from the episode “Unconfirmed Reports,” portrays the newspaper editors debating how best to tell the story of the city’s failing schools. The heroic editor Gus Haynes argues for a series of articles showing the interconnectedness between institutions rather than just “beating up” on the schools, saying, “I think you need a lot of context to seriously examine anything,” a line that could serve as a mission statement for The Wire itself. But the villainous publisher James Whiting warns against ending up with “an amorphous series detailing society’s ills,” a succinct negative gloss on what some skeptics might say the series amounts to. This metacommentary extends as McNulty’s serial killer stands in for the sensationalist crime dramas that get ratings buzz, with allusions to series such as CSI and Dexter peppered throughout the season, while Bunk’s Wire-like “real police work” goes unnoticed and underfunded. Meanwhile Templeton wins awards for his lies while Gus and Alma are demoted for their refusal to play along, a not-so-veiled commentary on The Wire’s lack of Emmys and other industry accolades that had been given to more conventional fictions. The final season portrays the downfalls of the gangsters Proposition Joe and Omar Little, while the Sun misses both stories and chooses not to cover their deaths. The season’s most emotionally powerful story, Bubbles’s recovery, is highlighted by the rare act of quality journalism in the form of a long-form narrative feature, but we can appreciate his understated triumph in climbing his sister’s stairs only through the lens of fictional drama.