The Wire: just how realistic is it?

Baltimore police

It’s one of those age-old dilemmas: gritty crime drama depicting something few, if any of us, have experienced – is it realistic? The Wire has a deserved reputation as being one of the most realistic shows on TV, primarily because its creators, David Simon and Ed Burns, have been there and done that. Simon was a crime reporter for the Baltimore Sun while Burns was a cop and a teacher in Baltimore.

But as we learnt from the last series, times change. Both of The Wire‘s creators’ experience was gleaned during the 80s and 90s and times move on. As a result, even the depiction of The Baltimore Sun was slightly archaic compared to where it is now. A modern newspaper without rolling Internet deadlines? Really? And indeed, the whole of the first series, in which the drug dealers used pagers, was a throwback to an investigation from the 80s that Simon had covered.

Anyway, it turns out Baltimore isn’t as much of a hellhole as it’s depicted – at least, not any more. Does that reduce the value and impact of The Wire? Or is it still as valid and powerful as ever?