The Wire Creators: HBO Wouldn’t Do This Show Today

“I’ve seen a few of the limited series on HBO and they’re good shows, but they don’t break new ground,” said Ed Burns. “These are detectives or these rich women arguing in a town.”

The Wire co-creators Ed Burns and David Simon have spent two decades pondering the legacy of their critically acclaimed HBO series.

Burns and Simon, along with Wire alumnus George Pelecanos, most recently turned to the true story of the Baltimore Police Department’s corrupt Gun Trace Task Force for the HBO limited series We Own This City, starring Jon Bernthal. Life cop convicted of stealing and selling drugs.

But on the 20th anniversary of “The Wire,” which premiered on June 2, 2002, retired Baltimore homicide detective Burns criticized other modern HBO series, saying that “The Wire” “definitely wouldn’t have” gotten the green light if he would have been presented today.

“Well, it has to be ‘Game of Thrones.’ It must be big. It has to be separated from stepping on someone’s toes,” Burns told the New York Times. “I’ve seen a few of the limited series on HBO and they’re good shows, but they don’t break new ground. They’re detectives or those rich women fighting in a town. I don’t see anyone saying, ‘Hey, this is a really great show.'”

Burns added that in 2002, HBO was “moving up the ladder back then” and really “didn’t understand” The Wire until season four. “In fact, they thought about canceling it afterwards [Season 3]. We got that moment where the broadcasters were like, ‘Oh, we need a show for this group of people,'” Burns said.

While “The Wire” introduced audiences to Michael B. Jordan, Idris Elba and the late legendary talent Michael K. Williams, the series “stole” Greek tragedies, the Western film genre and Stanley Kubrick’s “Paths of Glory,” according to the former police reporter by Baltimore Sun, Simon, to provide a stunning insight into the modern day corruption between bureaucracy and criminals.

Simon described each season as a “novel,” which led to real-life writers such as Pelecanos and Richard Price being hired for the writing team. Looking back, however, Simon admits that despite writing scripts featuring POC characters, they “didn’t really bother with the idea of ​​diversity in the writer’s room.”

“It wasn’t even about black and white,” Simon said. “But apart from David, who wrote a couple of scripts for us, and Kia Corthron, the playwright, who did one, we’ve been really ignorant of diversity. That wasn’t prescient.”

Simon clarified, “Why were we not paying attention? Because it was so organic to what I had been treating and what Ed had been monitoring… If I had to do it again, I would have to watch it [the diversity of the creative team] just as I watched later productions.”

And Burns added a special message to the city of Baltimore: “I’m sorry [Baltimore] “The Wire’s” town was named because we could have brought this show to any city in exactly the same way,” Burns said. “Akron, Ohio would have suddenly become the Wire town. So it’s a shame it was crammed into this small town.”

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Lindsay Lowe

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