On June 2, 2002, the groundbreaking series The Wire debuted on HBO. Due to its in-depth focus on Baltimore’s narcotics scene and its raw portrayal of the city’s drug trade, education, government and bureaucracy, the show was highly scrutinized by some. But to many others it is considered one of the most beloved and celebrated TV shows of the 21st century.
The Wire spanned 60 episodes across five seasons on prime time television. The series’ creators, former police reporter David Simon and former cop Ed Burns, drew upon real-life experiences to craft complex, accurate storytelling that, to this day, influences and inspires similar projects.
Some of today’s most celebrated stars trace their beginnings to The Wire — Golden Globe-winning actor Idris Elba is widely known for his role as antagonist Stringer Bell, while Creed star Michael B. Jordan got his start as a young Wallace in the series. The late Michael K. Williams received great praise for his portrayal of stickup man Omar Little, and Wood Harris is well known for his character, Avon Barksdale, a big-time Baltimore drug dealer.
Twenty years later the show still garners critical acclaim, including the boastful but indisputable — as many critics refer to them — comments made by the creators themselves, who say they’re more than aware of The Wire’s cultural impact.
“I told you so,” is a phrase Simon uses frequently in a New York Times’ article about the show’s legacy. Because, as Burns tells it, “this show will live forever.”
In honor of The Wire’s 20th anniversary, check out HBO’s official podcast episode, featuring Simon and Burns, narrated by Clifford “Method Man” Smith Jr.
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