One more Challenge to the Geographically Deprived

After finishing up the last episode of Breaking Bad  Brenda and I applied ourselves to finding another moderate to long-running TV series to binge-watch, two episodes a night.  We were looking for another character-based crime drama, though nothing so emotionally stressful as BB.  Martin suggested The Wire and we gave it a try.  If it had been just me, I would have nixed the show after the first episode.

“What’s going on?”  

“What did he say?”

But, as is often the case, three episodes in to this series created by author and former police reporter, David Simon, and we were hooked.  Essentially, the show is about life, death, business and politics in neighborhoods that the rest of America would rather pretend aren’t there.  In the show, they are “the projects,” “the towers,” “the vacants,” “the east side,” “the west side.”

One of the aspects of The Wire that most impresses me is its portrayal of both good and bad, wisdom and near-sightedness, compassion and cruelty, loyalty and treachery on both sides of the criminal code.

But mostly, it’s about thriving in economically depressed Baltimore in the first years of the 21st century, facing drugs, disease, murder and gangster politics.

And, in season 4, a new evil threat emerges from Eric Overmyer’s scripts, reaffirming the futility of trying to rise out of the streets of east and west Baltimore.  You guessed it.  It’s the effects of high-stakes testing on the lives of children and their teachers.

I find it interesting that a major network, even if it’s a limited-view premium network like HBO, has placed, along side violence, disease, and dysfunctional government, the debilitating effects of an education system, based increasingly on bubble-sheet compliance.

One thought on “One more Challenge to the Geographically Deprived”

  1. David,
    I am a new visitor to the site and have enjoyed reading your posts. I think I will probably avoid The Wire to prevent a repeat with which my wife and I found our addiction to Breaking Bad. It is the season 4 theme that really struck me. In Texas (as everywhere else), we are being faced with inevitably increasing standards – based on bubble-sheet data. My clientel face the effects of unfortunate geography. They don’t see a way out of the neighborhood and being offered the solution of tougher tests doesn’t make them feel like they have a helping hand. Having been educated in the early, emerging world of standards in education, I saw the effects of teachers without accountability. But as an educator of five years, I feel in many ways inhibited by the intensity of accountability as it looks today.
    Joel Bigelow

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