The Wire

 
 

Discussing Hamsterdam

"Straight and True"
WRITTEN BY Ed Burns
2004

 

CONTEXT

A rouge police chief has legalized drugs in certain districts of Baltimore.

Bodie is scooped up by the cops with the other small-time dealers. They’re carried to one of the new “safe zones” and told that if they stay in the special districts, they won’t be arrested for selling heroin.

When Bodie is released, he approaches boss-man Stringer Bell to tell him the news.

WHY IT’S BADASS

This is a straightforward scene and probably goes unnoticed in the context of this epic third season. However, this brief exchange between criminals is a fantastic example of the show’s hard-core realism.

How would you react if you had to tell a drug lord that you were picked up by the cops and told it was legal to sell drugs? Bodie shows a genuine mix of confusion, concern, and “How the hell do I explain this?” Although I’ve never been in his position, I imagine I would have approached the situation the same way.

But why is it so important to keep the show realistic? Because it asks us to accept unrealistic scenarios. In this season we’re expected to believe that a cop can get away with legalizing drugs. This would be a joke in any other show! But because the writers built an unwavering foundation of TRUTH in the first two seasons—because they included scenes like this that depict every minute ramification of such an unrealistic storyline—we buy it.

From its surface to its core, The Wire never loses its grasp on reality, even when we’re knee-deep in craziness.