Policing the War on Drugs in 'The Wire' and 'Breaking Bad': A Comparison

Analyse the way David Simon’s ‘The Wire’ (2002) and Vince Gilligan’s ‘Breaking Bad’ (2008) portray the War on Drugs and the efficacy of policing. Would be interesting to compare representations of surveillance, public policy and drug communities (i.e. how the centrality of drug trading affects social, economic and cultural structures in Wallis’s neighbourhood in ‘The Wire’ v. Jesse’s town in ‘Breaking Bad’). Might also be useful to look specifically at the first seasons and compare the way policing is represented as a response to political zeitgeists in each show and how methodologies have changed. For example, ‘The Wire’ came straight off the back of 9/11 which is cited heavily in the first season as the reason behind the lack of police resources and subsequent thriving of illegal drug pedalling.

  • I like this topic a lot and I think that that shows you have chosen are perfect examples. My only critique would be the scope of the media one would have to analyze - both "Wire" and "BB" are very long series - a writer would have to know the ins and outs of 7+ seasons of material to be comprehensive. This is also difficult because, within those seven seasons, the thesis could easily change back and forth several times.I think taking "Season 1" of each show might be a more attainable goal. – AndyJanz 7 years ago
  • I also like this topic a lot and think you have chosen a couple of really rich texts with so much to delve into. I think there is also a comparison to be made in the major kingpins of the respective shows Avon Barksdale & Gus Fring, as they have some similar characteristics in their businesses. Also intrigued by the idea of comparing Baltimore's drug culture to that in New Mexico. – billd 7 years ago
  • This is an extremely unique and enthralling topic. I think both television series exhibited forms of social corruption caused by drugs and poor policing of them. The political 'war on drugs' is one which surfaces itself in both narratives- the wire especially as it really fleshes out this corruption, whereas breaking bad features a more personal narrative circled around the issue of drug distribution however the characters within it are indicative of this social struggle. – AdilYoosuf 7 years ago

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