The Wire

Looking Back on The Corner

Earlier this year, I started on a journey of reading one of the most heart-wrenching, raw and powerful books I’ve ever picked up.  David Simon & Ed Burns’ The Corner had been on my reading list for a long while, but it was only this year that I finally lifted the cover and began turning the pages, taking me to the gritty corners of Baltimore.

This was a world that I was already familiar with after watching The Wire, which coincidentally was created by Simon and Burns.  The Wire is a show that has a special place in my heart and tugged at my heart-strings a number of times, so much so I’m surprised they didn’t come apart.  However, The Corner did so much more than that, because these were the lives of real people unfolding and unraveling in front of my eyes.

Reading this book was a process that took a whole lot of reflection, which was necessary after the completion of each part, because this book is seriously heavy.  I needed time to think over all of the situations that had been brought to my attention, consider the utter brokenness of the system and sometimes cry a little in despair or anger.

Anger was a common feeling while reading The Corner.  My anger was not only directed at the system, but also the members of society who look down on those who are caught up in this drug culture, without actually wanting to help or even accept that they are part of the problem.  This is a dangerous, heartbreaking culture that no one should have to be part of, but unfortunately many are and it is a cycle that is beyond difficult to break.

One of my stand out passages for The Corner reads:

“…We’re furious at the drugging and terrified by the shooting and unnerved at the notion that unless something is done, it won’t be contained, that this horror show will creep beyond the rotting cores of cities.  We have lost patience with the idea of our own culpability, with the corruptive message that accompanies the bribe.  For three decades, we bought them off with the small coinage of charity at the beginning of every month, telling them they were not necessary, that their nation could do without them.  Now, with that lesson of helplessness learned and learned well, we feel entitled to say that we can no longer avoid the coins.”

I began to realise that those on the corners are in a country of their own, ostracised from the United States and living by their own rules.  Their life is nothing like the lives of others and trying to get out of that life, off those corners, is like entering into foreign territory.  What I think broke my heart the most was reading about individuals trying to get clean or break free of the corner life, but finding themselves right back where they started, because being back in the “real” world was too difficult and complicated.

That isn’t helped by a government and the other powers that be who simply do not understand or have the best interests of these individuals stuck in the corner world at heart.  As I read the final parts today, this segment caused fierce anger to burn up inside of me:

“Just before Christmas, a few months after Fran had celebrated a full year of being clean, she was laid off — the result of a federal audit of the detox center.  It seemed that the grant money funding BRC required all counselors to be fully trained and qualified; to preserve its budget, the center was forced to let go of some of its best and most reliable staffers, men and women who had survived the corner and were now using that experience to great effect.  Fran, Antoinette, and about a dozen others were corner veterans on a hero’s journey, trying to salvage something of themselves, trying to give a little back.  The government, being the government, could not see it.”

You see, this paragraph – like the whole book – remains incredibly relevant today not only in the US, but also in the UK and many other countries in the world.  Problems surrounding the lower class continue to persist while those in power continue to thrive off it and act as if they are coming up with solutions, when it is blatant that their solutions do not work.  More and more of the same was a major issue in The Corner, and I’m sure that it is an issue that continues to persist today.  It genuinely makes me sick.

These are human beings and members of society who deserve to be treated as such – it was evident that many of them did not want to be in that corner life, but what other alternative did they have?  As I mentioned earlier, breaking away from the corner is no easy feat.  Getting an insight into their lives was honestly a privilege and it broke my heart to see the tragic endings for many of them, particularly for one individual who I was especially rooting for – I was tearing up by the end.

The Corner is honestly one of the most devastatingly, beautiful pieces of work I have had the opportunity to read.  It has vastly opened my mind and made me more adamant that we should not put labels on others, or judge others by the labels put on them.  We have no idea what life can be like for other individuals and we don’t know how we would act if we were in the same situation.

If you have not read this book already, I seriously suggest that you do, because it is something that we can all learn from.  I challenge you to be the same person you were before reading by the time you get to the end.

My Top 5 TV Shows

So yesterday I let you in on my Top 5 songs by one of my favourite singing groups, The Corrs, in honour of them reforming.  Today, I’m gonna let you in on one of the easiest categories, my Top 5 TV shows.  I bet you can guess which will be number one.

 

5. Gilmore Girls

Gilmore Girls is one of those shows that I watch and sit there wishing that I was living in it.  The fictional town of Stars Hollow comes across as unique, hilarious and so warm, full of fun, interesting characters that I would want to know.  It is the supporting cast that make this show so great and their weird anecdotes never fail to make me laugh, particularly watching the rudeness of Michel and Sookie’s clumsiness.  And then there is the theme song — you cannot help but love that.

4. The Wire

I only watched The Wire recently, but I fell in love with it instantly and it quickly became one of my favourite TV shows.  There has never been a show that has messed with my emotions more than this one and being based on real life in the city of Baltimore just brings it home more to me.  It broke my heart when the teens in Season 4 got screwed over by the system and I was sickened by the unethical reporters in Season 5, not to mention how devastated I was when Wallace and Bodie were murdered in Seasons 1 and 4 respectively.  The storylines are gripping and the acting is amazing, but it is the characters that truly stand out, as I fell in love with so many of them.The Wire

3. Diagnosis Murder

This may surprise you, but I’ve got crazy love for Diagnosis Murder.  I can watch episodes of that programme over and over and over again, and still not get tired of them, even when I know who the culprit is.  There is something so captivating about Dick van Dyke as Doctor Sloane, and I love that his real life son plays his son in the show.  I like all members of the supporting cast, even when Jack left and Jesse came in as his replacement, which is not always the case for TV shows.Diagnosis Murder

2. PhoneShop

I love, love, love PhoneShop.  I’m not a huge fan of comedies, because I don’t usually find them funny, but PhoneShop is one of those few comedy shows that I do find funny.  In fact, I find it funny over and over again.  It uses British, urban humour perfectly and it has a great mix of characters that all amuse me.  I cannot believe some of the ridiculous situations they find themselves in and some of the foolishness that they come out with is just too much for me.  This show is hilarious and I will happily watch it again and again.PhoneShop

1. The Tribe

Of course, my number one has to be The Tribe, my most favourite TV show in the world.  I can’t really explain why I love The Tribe so much, especially as I’ve come to notice some of the dodgy acting and annoying characters as I’ve got older.  However, I’ve always loved the original story of children and teenagers being forced to survive and make their way in a world where all the adults have died.  My favourite thing about it though is the quirky, unique outfits which remind me of DIY fashion culture, the bold make up and the cool, but sometimes ridiculous, hairstyles.Tribe Cast 2

There you have it, my top 5 favourite TV shows.  Are you a fan of any of these shows or are any of them your favourite?  Let me know your favourite TV shows.

Falling in Love with The Wire

Over the past few weeks, I’ve spent time watching all five seasons of the epic crime series, The Wire.  Surprisingly, this was my first time ever watching The Wire, despite hearing so many great things about it from various individuals, and I can’t believe I waited so long to finally watch it.  This is a quality TV show filled with deep, gritty storylines and an amazing group of actors.  I’d describe it as one of the best television shows I’ve personally ever watched, along with my beloved Boardwalk Empire.

What makes The Wire so special is not just its stories that ring true to life, but the engaging characters that fill the screen and make the stories come to life.  The slow-burning nature of the show also allows us viewers to watch each character develop.  I found myself falling in love with some of these characters, wishing that I could reach out to them or them in my life.

I love the police characters of Bunk and Kima, and I am also a big fan of Lester and Sydnor.  I like McNulty when he’s not acting like an absolute idiot and over time, I grew to really like Carver.  However, it was the criminals and street level characters that I really fell in love with.

Despite not having much of an opinion of him at first, I saw how much I loved Avon when he had a much smaller part to play in later seasons.  Watching the first season again also made me see how much I loved his cool mannerisms.  I was not keen on Bodie’s character initially, but as I watched him grow over the seasons, I fell in love with him and I was heartbroken when he was killed.

Although they kind of annoyed me at first, I fell in love with the teenager characters in season four and I desperately wanted to see them all come out on top, but that unfortunately was not meant to be.  I adored the gorgeous, little Randy and it angered me when the police and the system let him down – he was a sweet thing who deserved so much better.  One of the saddest moments in The Wire for me was watching Dukie’s wasted potential as he ended up as a drug addict.  He’d come so far, but he just could not catch break, after also being let down by the system.

There are so many other characters in The Wire that I love, including Bubbles, the sweet, bumbling addict who eventually got clean and turned his life around.  However, there are two characters that I fell deeply in love with and they will always stand out most for me.

Wallace’s character was only in The Wire for the first season, but he managed to have a huge impact on me.  This was a teenage boy caught up in the dangerous “game” of drug-dealing, which eventually cost him his life.  Wallace is an appealing character, because he is a real sweetheart who is not cut out for the life he’s living in, but he can’t bring himself to get out for good.  He has a wonderful caring streak, which you don’t see too much in a show like The Wire, and that made him refreshing.

I was so devastated when he was killed by his friends Poot and Bodie (which is part of where my initial dislike for Bodie’s character came from) that it actually reduced me to tears and I can never watch that scene again.  I fell in love with Wallace’s character in a sisterly way and I looked at him like someone I wanted to hug, take in and look after, just so that he could get out of that life.

And then there is Omar, who is my ultimate favourite character in The Wire.  I will hold my hands up and say that I am head over heels in love with Omar.  His character has one of the most unique and captivating personalities that you will ever see, which is why I love him so much.  It also helps that he is funny and he comes out with great things like, “Oh indeed”.  Omar is special, because he is a murdering criminal with a strict moral code and a beautiful heart – he also doesn’t swear, which I love.

Omar is played by Michael K. Williams, who just happens to play my favourite character in Boardwalk Empire, Chalky White.  Williams brings the amazing sensitivity and grace to Omar that he also brings to Chalky, which has made him one of my favourite actors.  I could actually write a whole post alone on Omar, because I love him so much, but I’ll leave that for another day.

The Wire is a spectacular show that develops their characters in a way that has truly inspired me, as they grip at my heartstrings and make me genuinely care about people who are not real.  However, part of the reason I love these characters so much is because of the part they play in stories that ring true to life.  I just hope I can use this inspiration to create great characters in my plays and stories that others will care about and grow to love.