Despair and The Wire

I’ll have more to say on this elsewhere, so I don’t want to get too into the details, but though I agree that The Wire doesn’t provide a particularly sharp critique of capitalism, I don’t quite agree with Reihan when he calls The Wire “an elaborate, moving brief for despair and (ultimately) indifference.” The show is indeed unrelentingly dour in its outlook, and anyone trying to predict the trajectory of any of its plot arcs is best served by the sticking to the maxim that no good deed goes unpunished. But for all the show’s cynicism, I’m not sure that it really serves as a call to indifference. Simon’s an angry man, for sure, but he’s also a fierce humanist, one who is intent on exposing the pettiness and weakness inherent in the human spirit, but also determined to embrace people anyway, despite their failings. Sure, the show plays as a furious lament over America’s social breakdowns, but much of that outrage comes from its very sincere, heartfelt belief in the great value of every single person – a belief that, truly held, seems to me to be anathema to indifference.