The Wire, Season 1, Episode 1: The Target

The Wire, Season 1, Episode 1: The Target. The series opens with a young street tough and a Baltimore homicide detective conversing over the body of a boy who'd been killed for grabbing the kitty in a dice game -- something he'd done on several occasions before. This time, however, "Snot-boogie" would be gunned down "over some bullshit," as the street tough says. Thus the tone of this series is set -- talk is coarse and reductive, life is tenuous, the rules of the game are unfair when they're not nonsensical and yet everybody plays because "this is America."

(No, the series was not perfect. Some seasons were decidedly stronger than others, some of the acting was noticeably weaker and the writing, on more than one occasion, was far too pointedly polemical for my taste, and yet, despite all of that, the stories of "this American life" were as addictive as the heroin they were slinging in the project towers.)

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