Sunday, January 6, 2013

In all of the last decade might have watched ten hours of television. That all changed in 2012 when I decided to check out Breaking Bad. Now I have ten years of of good TV to catch up on. Shows I'd have never thought existed because, let's face it, 99% of television is shit.

 We live in a society that can't get enough So You Think You Can Dance, Big Bang Theory and Jersey Shore, People watch those shows like cattle standing in a field, glassy eyed and uncomprehending, glancing at the cars that occasionally drive past. It's passive TV for passive people. As it turns out, there is active TV out there, too. Television that requires the viewer to engage, to think, to participate in his or her own entertainment experience.

The best TV shows I've seen during my period of television rediscovery are Louie, Justified, and the amazing, incomparable Breaking Bad. But my list of top-notch, perfect shows has just gone up by one.

 The Wire, which aired for five seasons during the last decade on HBO, is just as good as those other shows. It's not as balls-to-the-wall entertaining as those shows, it's a very slow burn and it requires your full concentration. But I'm a little more than half way through season one, and I am officially in love with The Wire.

The suspense and tension of this show is drawn out so slowly, with such meticulous detail, that you never see it coming until you realize you're completely sucked into it. If Breaking Bad is like a great Led Zeppelin song, with gentle, melodic, acoustic sections that frequently give way to blasts of electric, earth-shattering rock, then The Wire is more like jazz. It takes a while to even figure out what the hell you're trying to enjoy. Like a Thelonious Monk album, watching this show is a process of discovery. I've slowly gone from not being sure what the appeal is to following the beat and grooving along. Now, (to continue the album metaphor) I'm just getting into side two and completely ensnared by the music. It is so worthy of my time and attention. I'm grateful to my friends who suggested I investigate The Wire. This is one more reason I shouldn't have declared TV dead and pointless so long ago.

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