A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
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.
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.
For kids who love stories with an edge
Our editors recommend
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.