You Can Stop Being Ashamed of Me, I Finally Watched The Wire

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You know that disappointment you feel when you reference a popular show to a friend and you’re sitting there waiting for them to react to what you just said, with your eyes all big and doughy, but they give you that “does not compute” blank stare? Now you gotta explain where the reference is from while lookin’ at them and contemplating why the fuck you’re even friends to begin with. Then you ask, “How do you not know (insert: show, movie, rights that all humans deserve despite their color, gender, who they choose to love)?”

Well when it comes to The Wire… that’s me, I’m that friend. For thirteen years not watching this damn show has plagued my existence and threatened to have my Black card be revoked. Apparently, there is no excuse for not having watched this show, even though I didn’t have HBO growing up which is why I wasn’t on it from jump. “Well that ain’t no exquuuuese (excuse), you could’a downloaded that shit by 2008.” The worst part of this shit is my friends know I don’t know The Wire but they still make the references, then explain the significance of the reference they’re making, and why it relates to the current situation that we are talking about.

ALL MY FRIENDS do this and ALL MY FRIENDS give me that look you give a person you gotta explain why the joke is funny to while being annoyed that you have to take the time to do it. I’m sitting there apologizing all the while. Muh fuckas wouldn’t even give me partial credit for knowing that The Wire was a spin-off from The Corner, and I saw one or two eps of that. It’s gotten so bad that my friends don’t even explain shit after I don’t get a reference now, they just give me that disappointed Grandparent look with the head shake, and my immediate response?

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The final straw was finding out Sarah Kay, who’s up for a Nobel Peace prize as sweetest person on Earth, saw the first season of The Wire, even she has seen the father of the most hood and gritty television that we have today. That’s like finding out Micky Mouse and Donald did a drive-by on Sesame Street in ’85. That was the last sign that this binge had to be done, and on December 13, 2015, I watched the first season of The Wire, and because I marathon like a motherfucker I was able to get as far as episode one of season four in just a week.

It is an addicting show. Everyone one was telling me to skip season two as that season was the Rocky 5 of this series (the first few episodes were sooooo hard to get through doe), but once the unit got back together I was fucking with it. My favorite part of watching the show is seeing actors that I recognize for certain roles now appear on the show and having the opportunity to say,

“Oh shit, muh fucking Lord Baelish is in this show? Little Finger is up in here?
Hold up, Julius from Remember The Titans is Avon Barksdale? Is this what he got into after his boy died?”

I’m discovering so many things, like the whole Black dude shocked reaction I’ve seen used for years on the interwebs is Wee-Bay Brice’s reaction to finding out Little Man shot an undercover cop (Kima) who is still alive. The best discovery though? Theeee best thing? Has got to be the quotes, man. Ohhhhh my god, they’re gritty, and so hard. I fully understand everything that is beautiful in the world through the power of these quotes. It’s so hard for me to watch these bars and NOT use them in real life.

I used to hate having to go over adult shit with my Dad on the phone. Now when he calls me up to talk about my 401k, I just act like I’m Stringer Bell and the whole situation is fun as hell for me now…

Dad: I’m just wondering why they charged you a fee for switching the plan.
Me: So what you telling me I done been through war for that shit and they gon’ try and tax me on the product I got in the stash house?
Dad: *sigh* Stash what? Wait–ahhh. Look, you gotta recognize tha-

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Me: Man, they ain’t got the floor. Chair doesn’t recognize they ass.

I got so inspired by The Wire that at work, I taped the name Wallace on top of the our red Swing-line stapler (Yes, the Office Space one) and whenever it’s missing or someone needs it, I go up to whoever had it last, hover over their shoulder, wait till they turn towards me, then look them dead in the WINDOWS PANES OF DEY SOUL and say,

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Now, if I got to get into my favorite part about The Wire, then it’s best summed up as Jay-Z once said, “You was who you was before you got here.” Meaning that the real police, the true NATURAL police in Cedric Daniels’ squad came in who they were, but some of them ultimately became someone else on their way out. That’s where the real story lies of what was beautiful and crushing at times about this show. The perfect example is Roland “Prez” Pryzbylewski. Dude came in a straight fuck up, y’all remember his dirt, but what happened when he was stuck in the office on punishment (where Daniels had him ass deep in the consequences of his actions) helping out THE GAWD OF REAL POLICE, LESTER FREAMON? Lester helped Prez discover his knack for following the paper trail, putting pieces together because “All the pieces matter.”

We slowly see that Prez is taking on more of Lester’s traits and work ethic — unofficially Prez is his protege. Remember when the gang got back together in season two and Lester wasn’t there and Prez is like, “Wait? Lester ain’t come out to play?” and he had to be reassured that the gawd was surely coming back? Now, I fucking hated Prez at first, but once he got his shit together I was rocking with him, then his exit happened (shot a Black undercover cop and realized he failed to identify himself) and that shit was crushing as well. And who’d he feel he let down the most? Lester Fucking Freamon.

Look at Kima, who was nothing like McNulty character-wise, save for the quips and one-liners, but then when she became more like him, right? Not giving up the case on Bell and blatantly disobeying Daniels’ orders to drop it. Then the ultimate, when she followed McNulty’s How To Do Fuckshit Behind Your Spouse’s Back and Not Get Caught guide and she cheated on her wife doooooooe? Kima changed and started having more McNulty qualities, whereas McNulty and Lester they stayed the same, they were still who there were before they got to the unit.

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When it comes to the dealers and characters on the opposite end of the law, I realized I fucks with the person Bodie amounts to from season 3 to 4. I’m laughing as Chris and Snoop roll up on Bodie asking if he is going to jump on Marlo’s package and he sighs nonchalantly and says, “I told Lil Kevin to shoot y’all but since he just walked on by… yeah. I guess I’m on y’all’s package.” That shit had me dyin’, but then I got upset cause I remembered this the muh fucka that killed Wallace, man. I’m still holding that against him, this dude shot Wallace but copped two more bodies by association ’cause technically that means he killed Johnny Storm and Adonis Creed, yo. That love/hate with the characters on this show gets so visceral and pulls you in entirely. This shit was the original Game of Thrones ’cause you KNOW someone is going to get got but you just don’t know when nor can you ever really predict how.

It’s also interesting watching this police-heavy show in 2015. I’m watching the police on this show just stroll up and deck dealers in the face, beating handcuffed perps down, and just all around fucking people up with no one batting an eye. Not even the victims of the brutality speak up because “That’s the game.” That’s just the way it is, and there’s that weird understanding between the dealers and the police enforcement on the show. Herc wrongfully decked the fuck out of Bodie on one occasion and Bodie said, “Drop me off at my grams and we’ll call it even,” and they did. It’s weird seeing that element of understanding on this show and the mechanic of that understanding, the aspect of its existence is something I enjoyed.

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Meanwhile, I know once I turn off the show and close my laptop, it’s a very different state of belief and reality now when it comes to the Black community and police because Black boys, girls, women, men just get killed now even regardless of right or wrong. I’m watching certain scenes on the show with cops chasing drug runners and thinking if that was now, that hopper wouldn’t have made it to the 3rd step or even broken their stride in. All of which is to say, there were so many parts watching perps get their asses kicked by police and I’m thinking that’s fucked up… but at least their fucking alive though. Which makes me wonder would that have been at the forefront of my thoughts If I was watching this show when it debuted 13 years ago?

Now, I still have to finish season 4 and 5 of The Wire but it feels so good to finally be able to understand these references and speak the same language as my friends. It’s also no longer confusing when they say, “Remember that time Omar walked out in that electric blue robe” and I’m like, “Are y’all like watching me in my sleep or something because I don’t own a blue robe… so I think you’re actually watching the wrong person.” “The Game” is the biggest character in the series. “The Game” was who it was before it got here, and it never changed.” The funniest thing is when I showed my friend Thuli the “My name is my name” Marlo speech, and she told me, “I went to acting school with him.” I’m like “What?” I just seen this dude dual wield the ninas on the show and am now trying to wrap my head around her telling me, “Yeah, that’s funny because he was the kindest person ever.” I said, “Well, he’s an incredibly talented actor cause I just saw him UPS a body to Jesus and am having a hard time picturing him asking the teacher about breathing techniques.”

I watched the character Lex knock Fruit and realized I worked with him years earlier at a retail job. He mentioned he appeared on The Wire when we asked him about his acting but back then I had no idea what the fuck that was. Thirteen years later I see him dust off Fruit and I’m like, “OOOOOOH SHIT! …wait, NORMAN? OH SHIT, NORMAN KILLED FRUIT?!?”

I’m also realizing The Wire is its own matrix, because for the life of me I can NOT stop seeing things in real life relating to this show. It’s like when D’Angelo Barksdale was explaining chess through the players involved in the game and through the eyes of the streets. That’s how you know a show is good because it leaves that impression on you and is able to give you that deja-vu when you start seeing how “all the pieces matter.” You also realize that “The Game” that everyone refers to and revolves around in regards to the streets, affecting the dealers and police together, is the biggest character in the series. The Game was who it was before it got here and it never changed, it just… heh, I ain’t even gotta finish that quote ’cause y’all already know how it ends, right?

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  • Omar Holmon is a content editor that is here to make .gifs, obscure references, and find the correlation between everything Black and Nerdy.

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