Badass Drama: The Wire

DISCUSSING HAMSTERDAM
S03E05 – “Straight and True”
Written by Ed Burns
2004

CONTEXT:
A rouge police chief has legalized drugs in certain districts of Baltimore.

Bodie is scooped up by the cops with the other small-time dealers. They’re carried to one of these “safe zones” and told that if they stay in the special districts, they won’t be arrested for selling heroin.

When he’s released, Bodie approaches boss-man Stringer Bell to tell him the news.

WHY IT’S BADASS:
This is a straightforward scene and probably goes unnoticed in the context of this epic third season. However, I chose this brief exchange between criminals as a fantastic example of the show’s hard-core realism.

How would you react if you had to tell a drug lord that you were picked up by the cops and told it was now legal to sell drugs in certain zones? Bodie shows a genuine mix of confusion, concern, and “How the hell do I explain this?” Although I’ve never been in his position, I imagine I would have approached the situation exactly like he does. A lesser show might have ignored this vital exchange, but “The Wire” takes the time to do it right.

But why is it so important to keep the show realistic? Because it asks us to accept unrealistic scenarios. In season three we’re expected to believe that a cop can get away with legalizing drugs. This would be a joke in any other show! However, because the writers built an unwavering foundation of TRUTH in the first two seasons; because they included scenes like this that depict every minute effect of such an unrealistic storyline… we buy it.

From its core to its surface, The Wire never loses its grasp on reality, even when we’re knee-deep in craziness.

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