Though it flew mostly under the radar while it was on the air, HBO's The Wire has ballooned to become a massive cultural phenomenon, giving television a 21st century Dickensian story and providing annoying white dudes at parties ammunition for faking knowledge of urban education policy. Considering how successful the series' portrait of Baltimore and its institutions—a run-down police department, grinding drug organizations, a failing school system—reading early writing confused by the series' pacing and skeptical of its long-term success is just surreal. Now, The Wire is its own institution—it's inspired several college classes, a brutal character bracket, and is even President Obama's favorite show.
But for practically the entire time since its run ended, criticism of The Wire has been practically non-existent (thanks, Obama). Of course, much of The Wire is a polemic by series creator David Simon, a brilliant writer and renowned asshole. The intensely argumentative and particular nature of the show makes it hard to criticize, on some level, since practically everything that happens is an attempt to fit into a worldview, and framework for that worldview, which the viewer either accepts or rejects. But that doesn't mean there aren't problems with the show beyond a general heavy-handedness. Some characters don't fit; others do things that don't make sense. Like McNulty fresh off the boat, we're ready to investigate: Here are The Wire's biggest flaws.
Eric Thurm is a contributing writer. He tweets here.