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Emmy again gives thumbs down to “The Wire”. What’s Up?

July 17, 2008

emmy.jpgThe folks who decide the Emmys this year expanded to six the nominees for best dramatic series, but they still gave a final thumbs down to HBO cops and thugs drama “The Wire”. Once again, they failed to recognize what many fans and critics hail as one of the best television shows ever, and Emmy watchers are calling the lack of a nomination a major snub. So one wonders, can the show’s devoted fans be that wrong?

What was it about “The Wire” that turned off Emmy voters during its five-season run that wrapped this year on HBO – the network that Emmy voters have so often lauded in the past when nominating “The Sopranos” or “Sex and the City?”

Was “The Wire” too real in graphically showing that many U.S. institutions are broken, and likely beyond repair? Reality shows are in vogue. What about a dramatic series that gets real about failing cops, courts, newspapers, politicians and schools? Even the drug dealers central to each episode are taken to task for dysfunction.

Was it because “The Wire” was based in Baltimore and not in a city darling to T.V. viewers like New York or Miami or Las Vegas?

Was it that “The Wire” faced competition early on in its run from HBO’s own stable of high-quality drama series like “The Sopranos” and “Deadwood” so that, by the time “The Wire” became a first-string player on the network this season, too many episodes had passed for viewers — and Emmy voters — to catch up the events on DVD?

What about the acting? After all, the lead actor nailed the unique Baltimore accent even though he’s British. But no major acting nominations were issued either for “The Wire.”  

Before the nominations were announced, Entertainment Weekly assistant managing editor Kristen Baldwin said Emmy voters would be remiss to pass over the show again this year. But she added, “It’s a very dense, dark, complicated show” that viewers may not appreciate without watching more than the single episode submitted for Emmy consideration. So, was “The Wire” too depressing in a year when news headlines were pretty depressing and people wanted escapist entertainment?

Finding answers, of course, would require polling voters at the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences which gives out the Emmys, and that’s not practical.

One would think those questions might be gnawing at “The Wire” creator David Simon, but in the past he has disparaged the Emmys. Besides, he’s moved on and is now focused on armies of another sort — the U.S. Marines who fight without the attention he thinks they deserve in Iraq in the current run of his new HBO drama  ”Generation Kill.”

But that show, which also has earned some good reviews, begs this question for next year’s Emmys: Will voters embrace Baghdad after ignoring the streets of Baltimore?

(Writing by Bernie Woodall)


I think; no, I voice and thoroughly object violently to the revoltingly vacant dismissal of this unique and dare I say, vital program that has had it’s say and said it better than all catatonic instant gratification idiocy that passes for television programming today. What is with the Emmy commitee? Can they be as vapid as the population they’re obviously playing to?

I was a policeman for 20 years in NYC and throughout people would always ask me what in the media accurately reflected the peculiar police subculture, at least in a big city. For years, with exception of the occasional Joseph Wambaugh novel, I was at a loss for answers until “the Wire” was broadcast.

What was great about “the Wire”, if not phenomenal, was that it didn’t just concentrate on the limited world of the cops and thugs. Simon and Burns had an intuitive genius to realize that you had to follow ALL the loose ends of that world to provide if not an accurate explanation then at least an reasonable analysis of the questions that are ultimately raised and not addressed by the typical “lock ‘em up and throw away the key” reflexive types.

For the duration of my time as a cop I always said that the drug war was nonsense, just more “make work” for law enforcement to show some sort of results that ultimately fail and don’t solve anything. Likewise Guiliani’s incarceration at any price policies that callously were really employed to simply generate revenue for a fiscally insatiable city. I always raised unpopular issues with unorthodox solutions being dismissed by law and order types who unfortunately for our society at large, are in control due to the forfeit of reason by people of good will.

“The Wire” addressed and dug at the questions that many were afraid to ask. I am saddened and dismayed by this apparent and deliberate indifference.


Amen to what Daniel said. I could not have put it any better. This is easily the best television show I’ve ever seen. One small quibble, however, with Bob Tourtellotte in this article. Dominic West was very good as McNulty but his American accent was weak and his Baltimore accent was non-existent. David Simon, Dominic West and others have even testified to this on numerous occasions. They did not want the ostensible main character to have that strange and unique accent. As someone who lived in Baltimore for 12 years I can tell that you could not recognize the accent if your life depended on it. Sorry

Posted by Russell Farmarco | Report as abusive

In response to Russell, I think Tourtellotte was referring to Idris Elba rather than Dominic West.

Posted by Raj | Report as abusive

Jeeze people. The Wires cast was shunned because they are B-L-A-C-K!!!! I’ve read all the articles about the Wire getting snubbed by the Emmys and NONE of you writers write about the obvious!!! Damn! Just tell the truth. It’s not the drugs or violence, the Soprannos were GANGSTERS people! Sex in the City delt with…..SEX. The Emmys gave those guy awards. What I think is sad and wrong is the fact the the Emmys noninated the white writers and ignored the cast. (shakes head and rolls eyes)


*clap clap*
To mr. mccormick, (in complete opposite to your prose) Best Comment Evar.

Even more so coming from a Guiliani-era veteran cop, it was great to hear. One thing is for certain, the thing you pointed out: multiple layers and threads must be assessed to answer even the simplest of questions – is what I took from the show as well. It simply is never just “one-thing” and it has been screamed, shouted and stated for years and years in all forms of pop-culture. music, movies, books, and the web. And the wire captured it, with style, humor and emotion.

anyhoo, great comment if i ever saw one mr. m.

Posted by roli | Report as abusive

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