Both of these shows have received praise from critics and viewers. But they each do some things better than the other. Here they are.
David Simon created two shows that hit pop culture like a thunderbolt. Homicide: Life on the Street and The Wire were two gritty dramas. Homicide was a procedural cop drama in standard terms but it was so much more than just that.
The Wire was a drama that followed the cops trying to infiltrate local street gangs and the drug business. Simon, the mastermind behind the dramas strived to bring attention to Baltimore and the dangers that lurk in an American city. The shows are often pitted against one another but truly they are both great in their own ways. What Simon lacked in one he did better in the other.
The Wire Is More Appreciated
The Wire clearly has more of a following than Homicide: Life on the Street. In fact, most fans didn’t realize that David Simon was continuing his stories from Homicide on The Wire. The show had more advantages with one of the most important ones being on HBO. at the time HBO was filling up its time slots with a lot of gritty, hard-hitting, interesting shows that Network cable just couldn’t adhere to.
Their strict regulations wouldn’t allow it. Fnas often rave about The Wire, the characters, storylines and even the careers they made for people like Idris Elba and Michael K. Williams.
Homicide Can Stand On Its Own
Unlike The Wire, Homicide: Life On The Streets has the ability to stand on its own. The series has 122 episodes spanning over 7 seasons. It was on NBC network television meaning it had to be written in a way where anyone interested could just pick up any episode and not need a back story. Granted, it wouldn’t be a David Simon show without some kind of story arch. So you still get that feeling of following these characters and diving into their lives but on a less intense scale. This show is perfect for someone who wants a gritty cop drama with little maintenance.
The Wire Has Better Characters
Speaking of characters, The Wire has brought us some unforgettable characters. Ones that most wouldn’t assume they could relate to. Omar had to deal with being apart of the LGBTQ community and living on the streets of Baltimore. The season featuring the kids showed how life goes for the children of drug dealers, single moms, drug addicts, and parents in jail. Fans were building connections through story arcs. The writers were forcing us to peel back the layers and see that some of these characters were never given options to do anything else. It was powerful.
The Homicide Cast Truly Looked Like People of Baltimore
David Simon is known for casting people who are perfect for their roles. In Homicide, he took the time to find the perfect cast to play cops taking on the hard streets of Baltimore. He cast relatively unknown people like Melissa Leo and Andre Braugher. The cast is what made the show you truly believe this was a documentary-style show of real cops. You hurt when they hurt, you went on cases with them. Most importantly you felt as though you really knew them. They could have been your neighbor, your best friend, your parent.
The Wire Has An Accurate Depiction of Baltimore
Baltimore has a reputation for being a hard city to live in. The streets are dangerous, the crime rate is extremely high and let’s be honest, it’s not the nicest city to vacation in. David Simon set out to tell the stories of some of the people he met while filming there previously. He wanted to draw attention to how drugs have hurt this particular community. Most fans have said that this show is so accurately depicted that is has sent chills up their spine. The true stories and people who created these characters is what makes this show so unique and true to real life.
Covered American Racial Politics
While we all know that The Wire did this as well Homicide, did it on a level that at the time was not the norm. Shining a light on politics and race in a TV show was something that wasn’t freely talked about. David Simon wanted to tell real stories and get people talking about some of the injustices in the world. Especially in our own backyard. Homicide ran from 1993 to 1999, during this time many issues were covered some even ripped from the headlines. This was one of the reasons why their show was so dedicated and accurate.
The Wire Made You Feel Death
Every time a character died in The Wire you felt it. Fans of the show were regularly treated to deaths of main characters. There was nowhere to hide and the deaths always came out of nowhere. Even characters that you expected to live were not immune to being gunned down or passing from an overdose or something else just as horrific. In Homicide, we felt the deaths but not regularly. Most of the people who died were the people of the murders the team was investigating that episode. Their stories could still pack a punch for the most part but fans could live with it. When someone in The Wire died fans needed that time to mourn and in some cases wanted to see justice.
David Simon and the writers really know how to write for their audience. The dialogue for the show has been praised as some of the best-written police dialogue. They stayed true to how a cop would act on a crime scene. They were never heartbroken when investigating a new crime it was usually something along the lines of “well we knew that was coming”, or “just a typical day”. The crime rate in Baltimore is higher than the average crime rate. Having the police show up to the scene unaffected and ready to find a murderer was the norm.
Cast People Of Colour
The Wire truly stepped outside of the norm of TV when they choose to cast a show of mostly characters of color. At the time it was unlike any other TV show. The stories were intense. Amongst TV shows like The Sopranos where there was a lack of any actors of color on the same network. In order for David Simon to tell a story that would be impactful, he has to hire believable actors. It just happened that black actors were not prominent during this time. Many people assumed that a majority of the cast were people that Simon found on the streets playing themselves.
Kind Of Funny
For a show that is so serious and tackling issues that are depressing and sad, there are actually a few funny moments. Vulture describes the comedy of the show as dark. “There’s a dark, cynical comedy that runs through the show.” They bring up the story arc in season 3 where a few of the cops bought a local bar. Their interaction with the bank manager when they find out they are approved for the loan is both hilarious and refreshing. They still keep that cynicism but the fans can also see the humor in a group of cops owning a bar and finally have something good in their life.
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