I really can’t stand it when there’s something that everyone is banging on about constantly, yet I just don’t get it. This is the case with the TV show, The Wire. God knows I’ve given it several chances, and I’ve really tried to “get into” it. When it first came on telly a couple of years back I was there clutching my copy of the Guardian who were hailing it as The Most Important Text For Mankind Since The Ten Commandments Were Carved on Tablets or something like that. Fifteen minutes into Series One, and I’m struggling. I couldn’t understand a flippin’ word of it. Turns out I don’t speak “street”. I even went out into the “street” for a few hours in between episodes to see if I could pick up some of the language, but it transpired that the “streets” of a small Aberdeenshire village are not the home of “street”. I did see some ponies though.
A year or so and a couple of series later, the Guardian were still banging on about The Wire. One critic was feverishly exclaiming that it was The Most Important Television Phenomenon Since the Moon Landing or That Footage of JFK Getting his Brains Blown out in Dallas. Or something. I had to get in. I rented the DVD and settled down with a pen and notepad, ready to try and work at it this time. I could cross reference words I understood,guess at those I didn't, try and learn the verb declensions by writing them out in pencil over and over again and get my husband to give me vocab tests every Monday. All that worked when I was learning German at school and surely within a couple of months I would be able to understand rudimentary Street. Instead, though, only twenty minutes in I began to get an eyes been pierced with hot needles type migraine.
Maybe I could just relax and let it wash over me, like those kids cartoons in the Seventies that were actually in Czech with moles and other woodland creatures. We Seventies kids all watched them, didn't understand a word, but enjoyed them all the same, mainly because we didn't have much choice until Pipkins came on at 12.30 or the feed for some live sporting event was down and they would run some Tom and Jerry's til it was fixed. This could be the way to approach it. But no, it was still as difficult to decipher as a period drawing room drama dubbed into Japanese. I found myself being distracted by other things around the house, like doing laundry or tackling some quadratic equations. Anything but put the hours in with The Wire.
Then, The Wire was reaching its final series. How would it end? How would the world move on from its creative genre busting genius? As you opened the cultural pages the excitement about it was such that instead of getting any actual comment from their TV correspondents all that actually came off the pages was mouth foam spelling the sentence “Best Event Since the Resurrection Itself”. BBC2 started running the show from the start for all those that hadn’t got into the phenomenon from the start. Apparently there were a few of us. This time I was determined and technology had changed. I had a fighting chance. Yes, I thought, I’ve got Sky Plus and can pause the show every sentence and go online and get every word translated live on Twitter by correspondents who can speak yer actual “street”. Still, I saw nothing except some hoodies running around mumbling stuff at one another in some ghetto or other. it was like listening to something whilst underwater.
By the end of the Episode One I couldn’t have told anyone the faintest sketch of a plot outline. Gibbering to myself, I finally gave up.I felt like someone’s gran who tried to pretend that she could stand being taken on a long journey home for Christmas by her grandson as he played Death Metal in the car the whole four hour journey. I wasn’t going to get it, I wasn’t enjoying it, and I felt old and sick.
And I’m annoyed. I like to be in there will everyone else ranting about “cutting edge” and “benchmark” telly. I feel left out, and I hate it. Nearly a year after the end of the final series of The Wire the Guardian is at it again. Today there’s another feature exclaiming that People Who Didn’t Get the Wire Are Akin to Those That Put Jesus to Death.
Fine, I’m Pontius Bloody Pilate then. I admit it. The Sopranos was way better anyway AND I worked out what the last episode meant. So there.
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