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The Wire: Urban Decay and American Television [Paperback]

Tiffany Potter , C.W. Marshall
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

Dec 1 2009
The first collection of critical essays on HBO's The Wire - the most brilliant and socially relevant television series in years
The Wire is about survival, about the strategies adopted by those living and working in the inner cities of America. It presents a world where for many even hope isn't an option, where life operates as day-to-day existence without education, without job security, and without social structures. This is a world that is only grey, an exacting autopsy of a side of American life that has never seen the inside of a Starbucks.
Over its five season, sixty-episode run (2002-2008), The Wire presented several overlapping narrative threads, all set in the city of Baltimore. The series consistently deconstructed the conventional narratives of law, order, and disorder, offering a view of America that has never before been admitted to the public discourse of the televisual. It was bleak and at times excruciating. Even when the show made metatextual reference to its own world as Dickensian, it was too gentle by half.
By focusing on four main topics (Crime, Law Enforcement, America, and Television), The Wire: Urban Decay and American Television examines the series' place within popular culture and its representation of the realities of inner city life, social institutions, and politics in contemporary American society. This is a brilliant collection of essays on a show that has taken the art of television drama to new heights.

Frequently Bought Together

The Wire: Urban Decay and American Television + The Corner: A Year in the Life of an Inner-City Neighborhood
Price For Both: CDN$ 56.11

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Product Description


Mentioned in 'In the Life of 'The Wire'' by Lorrie Moore
(The New York Review Of Books)

Mentioned in 'In the Life of 'The Wire'' by Lorrie Moore
(Sanford Lakoff)

About the Author


Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The greatest series ever made March 21 2013
I have purchased 7 boxed sets SO FAR for friends and family. I have three of my own: one to watch, one to lend, one to save. That should tell you how excellent this show is. I even named my pets after characters in it.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.8 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Required Reading for "The Wire" Fanboys April 15 2010
By Doug Stotland - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I would love to do an "eternal sunshine of the spotless mind" procedure so I could watch all 5 seasons of "The Wire" again for the first time. I'm obsessed with the show as are many others I know. Since there's no more episodes and I've read everything I could find on the Web I was pysched to find this book. The essays are very uneven. Several are very good, 1 I thought was flat out great (by the Bileveau's) and the rest are so-so. Even the so-so ones were still a joy to read. Not as insightful or provocative as the better ones but it was still fun to go back through some of the scenes and dialog. The Bileveau's piece on Michael and Namond was the highlight for me. It combined solid literary criticism w/ insightful social applications.

If you're obsessed with "The Wire" I don't think you really have a choice but to read this book. You won't love all of the essays (some of them you'll finish and won't remember any of what you read) but you'll look forward to picking it up each time.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A worthy title of its subject... March 25 2010
By R. Lackie - Published on
This book of essays is fantastic, allowing one to delve much further into the deep sea of powerful narrative that is The Wire. The essays are interesting, expertly-written and demonstrate a deep knowledge of and respect for the show, while offering an expanded view of the power of The Wire. Worth every dollar. I wish more volumes like this were available for television series.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing analyses Sept. 18 2010
By Man of Gray - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The book contained easy-to-follow and yet, structurally sound and interesting arguments and analyses regarding various aspects of "The Wire". It had very little direction and was more a compilation of critical looks into the dimensions of the show. I used this book as a tool in for a course solely structured around using "The Wire" a s a critical lens through which to view various aspects of life and the human condition especially with regard to dualities in the inner cities of america. It was helpful despite being a little bland and presumptuous at certain points.
1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Your mileage may vary Sept. 2 2012
By Isaac - Published on
The Wire: Urban Decay and American Television is a good companion for anyone who is interested in delving deeper into the myriad connections and themes of one of television's most complicated shows. This collection of essays runs the full gamut of topics, from exploring the forces that shaped two of the main characters in Season Four in Ralph and Luara Bolf-Beliveau's excellent "Posing Problems and Picking Fights: Critical Pedagogy and the Corner Boys" to examining homophobic attitudes of HBO forum posters towards the Wire's arguably most popular character in Kathleen LeBesco's "Gots to Get Got: Social Justice and Audience Response to Omar Little".

Historical explorations of Baltimore, character studies, television narrative complexity - there's a LOT of meat here. But then again, the show is so rich that I felt that there is absolutely no shortage of material and perspectives for another collection.

Because the collection covers such a broad spectrum of topics, its appeal may fluctuate from essay to essay. I would find myself immersed in one section (Jason Read's Stringer Bell's Lament: Violence and Legitimacy in Contemporary Capitalism), only to be completely disengaged and outright confused in another (Kevin McNeilly's Dislocating America: Agnieszka Holland Directs "Moral Midgetry" did nothing for me because I'm unfamiliar with the process of directing). I expect this to be the case for most readers; thus it's tough to throw out a solid recommendation for every Wire fan out there.

Still, I suspect that if you enjoyed the series enough to seek out additional analysis, there's definitely something in here for you. Personally, this book has earned a place on my bookshelf, as the Wire has cemented its spot in my DVD collection as television's most engaging and demanding show.
0 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I miss being an English major Sept. 25 2010
By Jeff Schneider - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
An interesting collection of essays on a variety of topics. Insightful analysis but not too highbrow. Also, it was nice going through the plot summaries again.
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