The Wire

TV review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
The Wire TV Poster Image
Realistic drama about urban crime is not for kids.
Parents recommend

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 7 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 5 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

The show's characters and their actions are complex -- ranging from criminal to selfish to noble. Overall, despite its heavy, dark content, the show provides serious social commentary on the complex problems faced by inner cities.

Positive Role Models & Representations

While criminal behavior is treated as negative, those who are fighting crime aren't always ethically motivated. The characters and the actors who play them are a diverse group.

Violence

Frequent scenes of people being murdered. Guns and other weapons are visibly used to cause bodily harm. There are also recurring discussions of violent acts as related to criminal investigations. Lots of gang-related fighting (including punching and kicking) resulting in bodily harm. Children engage in disruptive behavior in and outside of school.

Sex

Strong sexual content, including nudity. Explicit, gratuitous remarks about sex and sexual activity are frequent.

Language

Very strong language, including the continual use of "f--k" and other swear words. The swearing is often gratuitous.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Drug trafficking is prominently discussed and sometimes visible, thought it's presented within context (drug dealing is a major theme of the show). Both adults and minors drink and use tobacco products.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this dark, mature series offers a very realistic representation of urban crime and the other problems that affect inner cities (but, unfortunately, offers few solutions). It constantly deals with gang violence, drug trafficking, and murder and frequently criticizes law enforcement and government agencies. It also contains extremely strong language and some nudity -- all of which makes it strictly for adults only.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 10 year old Written byyuigy March 1, 2013

A masterpiece but definitely not for children.

I think this is possibly the best show ever created for TV or film. It is incredibly real depiction of the industrial decay that effects many manufacturing cit... Continue reading
Parent of a 1 and 4 year old Written bykcgunesq December 16, 2011

6 out of 5 Stars - but not for children

I won't offer a long review, as there are many elsewhere praising the outstanding series. The Wire is quite possibly the best television series (albeit pay... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byRyan Peter May 26, 2014
I'm pretty sure basically every review I've ever written for CSM was a joke, but I'm angry about this. First off I watched this when I was 12, a... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written bymad about film July 29, 2016

outstanding

Honestly I think this is one of the best shows ever made. It has amazing character development and the plot is great. Kids may find this slightly boring as it... Continue reading

What's the story?

THE WIRE is an award-winning drama that powerfully addresses many of the complex issues plaguing America's inner cities, presents a gritty, realistic interpretation of urban life, and underscores the idea that urban crime is a product of both a socially and politically flawed society. The show centers on the Baltimore police department's ability to access criminal organizations through the use of electronics and wiretap surveillance. The series looks at government and law enforcement's inability to "win the war" against drugs, gangs, racism, poverty, and political corruption. Boasting a large ensemble cast -- including Lance Reddick as Lt. Cedric Daniels, Dominic West as Detective Jimmy McNulty, and Wood Harris as drug lord Avon Barksdale -- The Wire's cops and criminals aren't simply "good guys" and "bad guys," but multifaceted individuals struggling to survive and succeed in a world with its own set of values and rules of justice. Meanwhile, the members of Baltimore's political circle -- including Mayor Clarence V. Royce (Glynn Turman) and Councilman Thomas Carcetti (Aiden Gillen) -- negotiate both the law and the streets.

Is it any good?

While The Wire takes a much-needed critical look at the social problems and institutional ineffectiveness of urban America, it fails to offer gratifying solutions to those problems. But in many ways that's actually the strength of this unflinchingly violent, realistic show; its straightforward, uncomfortable portrayal of America's urban crisis makes the issues facing urban America difficult to forget.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the realities of living in an urban area. Are all inner-city communities affected by drug trafficking and violent crime? What causes these problems? Are there any effective solutions?

  • While the media typically highlights drug-related crimes in urban areas, do these problems also impact other types of communities?

  • Issues surrounding race and class can also be discussed.

TV details

For kids who love stories with an edge

Our editors recommend

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