The Wire

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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 3 years ago
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  • 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 3 years ago
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  • 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 3 years ago
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The Wire: Every Cliche in the Book

The characters on The Wire are hardly new, novel, or interesting, but are regurgitations of other cop shows.

  • So much of entertainment is derivative. I think this will be a good critique. I haven't watched the show but the ad looked so boring. It is funny to see you talking about it. – Munjeera 4 years ago
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  • The genius of The Wire does not lie in the originality of its characters (nobody would ever make such a claim), but rather in the ways in which each and every one of them represents a facet of the real-life war on drugs in the American urban landscape. To call them cliches feels simplistic; they're archetypes that make a greater picture when they all come together, like individual dots in a pointillist painting. PM me if you'd like further clarification, or to discuss the subject in greater detail. It's a really great show that I feel isn't being accurately represented by your stance. – ProtoCanon 4 years ago
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  • I must publicly confess here that ProtoCanon is correct that The Wire is special. I'm now seeing what I missed in the haze of my post-Breaking Bad viewing. Omar is an especially amazing character. I'd like to share a spot of tea with him... behind bullet-proof glass. – Tigey 4 years ago
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  • Then again, I've lost interest early in season four. – Tigey 3 years ago
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