Carlos Fenollosa

Carlos Fenollosa

Engineer, developer, entrepreneur

Carlos Fenollosa — Blog

Thoughts on science and tips for researchers who use computers

The Wire (of Thrones)

June 30, 2014 — Carlos Fenollosa

I don't care how good it is, I just don't like police shows

That's what I said after watching the first couple episodes from The Wire

It was a police show with unintelligible dialogs. Halfway through the first episode I fell asleep. God, wasn't this show the best thing since sliced bread?

After some discussion with my girlfriend and thanks to the insistence of a couple friends, we decided to give it a go. We would watch the first ten episodes before deciding on anything.

I now look at those first episodes as an investment.


I had fell into the judging a book by its covers capital sin.

The Wire isn't a show about police work in the same fashion as Game of Thrones isn't a book about a couple of royal bastards. And the comparison is intentional. They are both dramas, they have very strong characters, they display brutal death of loved characters, and most important of all, they both show how the world works.

Yesterday, I tweeted this:

The Wire has shown me how the world works much better than my 30 years of life


The Wire is Game of Thrones in a current setting. The similarities are very extensive.

Some police investigate a common crime. By pulling the strings, they start to realize the connections, some of which are away from their reach. The case goes on; it affects higher level characters, the ones below can do nothing about it and complain about how unfair managers are.

Lower level characters start growing, they are now in the position to change things. Things can't be changed because of the establishment and diverse interests. Some do the good thing and get punished (no good deed goes unpunished), others do bad things for a good reason (the end justifies the means). Most of the times, the result is independent of the character's behavior or intentions; there are just too many factors to account, too many people to please, too many interests. Outcomes are chaotic, for the better and the worse.

Some bad guys are not so bad, they are just people who got caught in a spiral of violence. Some manage to get out of it, some don't. Some die. All bad guys are people, a few are real monsters. The line between good and bad is only defined by their own ethics. The Wire, like Game of Thrones, reminds us of classical tragedies.

Former pawns are now kings, and start behaving like the old kings because that's the only way they can act if they want to survive. New pawns complain of new kings like old pawns complained of old kings.

A few characters maintain their integrity only to realize that righteousness is only a virtue when aligned with your king's interests.


I can't say much more without spoiling the fun. Besides a strange last season, where characters change too much and much evidently rushed because of the writers guild strike, the series is a gold mine.

Every chapter exposes some gold nuggets where, if the viewer has been paying attention, he will grasp the subtle hints, subtle dialog, subtle gazes between characters that anticipate what's going to happen. And, because not everything can always be planned ahead, those characters will be surprised by other characters defending their interests.

This show is so delightfully satisfying that consciously deciding not to watch it is a sabotage to one's own pleasure.

Tags: tv, life

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