You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

“The Wire”: David Simon reflects on his modern Greek tragedy

Wiredavidsimon_2David Simon always seems to have a lot on his mind. For the past six years, he’s given voice to his thoughts, commentaries and general reportage on life in urban American through his imposing HBO drama series The Wire.”

That sweeping saga of hustle and bustle on Baltimore’s drug corners, in its police department and school system, in the corridors of City Hall and its court system comes to an end Sunday with episode No. 60, “30.”

As you might expect, Simon had plenty to say about the process of wrapping up a show that is near and dear to him, the issues it has tackled over its five seasons and what he hoped “Wire’s” legacy would — and would not — be in the long run.

Simon was generous with his time in a telephone interview late last month, in between looping sessions on “Generation Kill,” his upcoming HBO miniseries about Marines in Iraq. (Beyond “Kill,” Simon’s also working with “Wire” and “Homicide” alum Eric Overmyer on an HBO pilot script set among musicians in post-Katrina New Orleans, and he’s got a deal with his “Wire” collaborator William Zorzi to write a non-fiction book about the rise of the drug culture in 1950s and ’60s Baltimore.)

According to Simon, the best way to understand “The Wire” is to think Greek — not the nefarious Greek characters who dominate the illicit trade in Baltimore’s ports, but the storytelling tradition of the ancient Greek tragedies, where the heroes and anti-heroes always face a dramatic downfall, usually as a result of their own hubris.

Leaning on that structure gave them a road map to plot the fates of the show’s primary characters, particularly the savvy police detectives Jimmy McNulty, Lester Freamon, Bunk Moreland and Kima Greggs; dealers, dopers and street soldiers Omar Little, Bubbles, Proposition Joe, Marlo Stanfield and Avon Barksdale.

“We knew what was going to happen over the course of the five-year run,” Simon sez (though it was not always clear it would be a five-year run, he’s quick to add. It took some work to secure seasons four and five).

“We were always adjusting where characters were going to end up, what parts of Baltimore we were going to depict when, what we wanted to say with the overall  theme of the show. It was a Greek tragedy done in a modernist urban way, with the city as the main character,” Simon says.

More TV

  • Alicia Keys23rd Annual Hollywood Film Awards,

    Alicia Keys Will Return as 2020 Grammy Awards Host

    Alicia Keys will return as the host of the 62nd annual Grammy Awards. Keys hosted the awards show for the first time in 2019. She will become the third woman and the first female music star to host the show twice. Keys has won 15 Grammy awards and is second only to Paul Simon as [...]

  • AMERICAN HORROR STORY: 1984 -- Pictured:

    'American Horror Story' Recap: '1984's' 'Final Girl' Revealed

    SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not yet watched “Final Girl,” the finale episode of “American Horror Story: 1984.” The final episode of “American Horror Story: 1984” is appropriately called “The Final Girl,” a reference to the term given to that one (usually virginal) young woman who manages to survive the massacre in most [...]

  • Lady Antebellum and Halsey53rd Annual CMA

    Halsey Puts the Extra Lady in Lady Antebellum in Elegant CMA Awards Medley

    Halsey is increasingly proving herself a woman for all seasons in her varied TV appearances and awards show collaborations, and Wednesday’s CMA Awards telecast was no exception, as she ingratiated herself into the country vocal trio Lady Antebellum for some flawless four-part harmony on a medley of two of their respective hits. She and Lady [...]

  • The Bachelor

    TV News Roundup: ABC Announces Premiere Date for 'The Bachelor' Season 24

    In today’s TV news roundup, ABC announced the premiere date for “The Bachelor” Season 24, while Showtime set a date for Eddie Griffin’s new comedy special. CASTING Freeform announced that it has cast the pilot for “Last Summer.“ Chiara Aurelia will star as Jeanette and Mika Abdalla will star as Kate in this “unconventional thriller” about [...]

  • Mandalorian Pose Stranger Things

    'The Mandalorian,' 'Pose,' 'Stranger Things' Among Nominees for Top TV Publicity Campaign

    The Disney Plus series “The Mandalorian,” three other streaming series, and two FX series have been nominated by Hollywood union publicists for the year’s top publicity campaign. “Catch 22,” “Fosse/Verdon,” “Pose,” “Stranger Things” and “When They See Us” picked up the other nominations. The nominees for the International Cinematographers Guild Publicists’ Maxwell Weinberg Award for [...]

  • Paradigm's Liz Morentin portrait session in

    Paradigm's Executive VP of Communications Liz Morentin to Exit Agency

    Liz Morentin is stepping down from her role as executive vice president of communications at Paradigm, Variety has learned. According to an individual with knowledge of the situation, Morentin’s departure was amicable and she will stay on at the agency through the end of the year to help with the transition. No replacement has been named at [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content