Dedicated television viewers know that there will always be shows that everyone wants you to watch, either it’s a cult show, a show that ended way before it’s time, or seems to grab everyone’s attention but yours. However many viewers find themselves stumbling upon these shows either years later or late into a shows run. I’ve compiled a list of ten shows, published once a week, that have become classics or are on their way to doing so and have recently been discovered by this writer.
Created by David Simon
Original Run 2002-2008
The Wire has become the definitive “must-watch” show. If you tell fans who were with it from the beginning that you’ve never seen it they look at you as if you’re a moron who needs to be initiated and/or destroyed. I resisted for as long as I could. It wasn’t because I didn’t think I’d like it (I was always intrigued by the concept) it was just that I was so deeply in love with The Shield, a show similar to The Wire and one I always felt was woefully underappreciated. So six years after it aired its final episode I finally bit the bullet and bought the first season.
Each season of The Wire focuses on different aspects of Baltimore, including the illegal drugs that have inundated the streets, the school system and print news media, and others. Because of the multiple stories there is a revolving door of characters in each season but constants include Detective Jimmy McNulty (Dominic West), drug kingpin Russell “Stringer” Bell (Idris Elba), Avon Barksdale (Wood Harris), amongst many others.
The first three episodes were rough, I couldn’t get past the preconceived notions I had come up with for the show. All those years hearing that this was one of the best shows that television had ever produced had left me with a vision of the show that the actual product just couldn’t match. It wasn’t until I had finished the first season and really started digesting it did I realize what I had just watched.
Did The Wire match the same fierce intensity The Shield did in nearly episode? Not even close but what The Wire did have was a quiet almost simmering intensity that sprang up at the most surprising of times, the same goes for the dark humor often found in the show.
The Wire didn’t exactly meet my heightened expectations but it did change them. When I thought I was going to get an unrelenting, dark look at various aspects of a broken city I found a show that was strangely arresting. I was caught by the challenging characters, chief among them McNulty, a strange man with a hatred of authority and an odd sense of humor that seems to define the show (especially in its early seasons). I might have mixed feelings about The Wire but I am glad I discovered it for what it really was, a challenging, often thrilling, quality show with powerful images and powerful stories to tell.