On The Wire (Paperback)

On The Wire (Paperback)

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Many television critics, legions of fans, even the president of the United States, have cited The Wire as the best television series ever. In this sophisticated examination of the HBO serial drama that aired from 2002 until 2008, Linda Williams, a leading film scholar and authority on the interplay between film, melodrama, and issues of race, suggests what exactly it is that makes The Wire so good.

She argues that while the series is a powerful exploration of urban dysfunction and institutional failure, its narrative power derives from its genre. The Wire is popular melodrama, not Greek tragedy, as critics and the series creator David Simon have claimed.

Entertaining, addictive, funny, and despairing all at once, it is a serial melodrama grounded in observation of Baltimore's people and institutions: of cops and criminals, schools and blue-collar labor, local government and local journalism. The Wire transforms close observation into an unparalleled melodrama by juxtaposing the good and evil of individuals with the good and evil of institutions.


"On the Wire is a readable, rigorously argued account of HBO’s seminal series. . . . Williams is noted for being a top scholar in film and media studies, but On the Wire demonstrates that above all else she is a passionate fan of the series. In order to explain why she loves it so much, and why it has impacted American culture with such force, she’s written a must-read book for everyone who believes that The Wire is life-changing fiction of the highest order."
-- Jon Lisi ― PopMatters

"Linda Williams’s book revolutionizes the ways we approach the series. Hers is a provocative, productive analysis that makes an essential contribution to the sociology of television: not only how to think of television as social force but its own ability to constitute sociological investigation."
-- Dana Polan ― Film Quarterly

“By tying The Wire’s forcefulness to its televisual and melodramatic nature, On The Wire reveals that however exceptional, this show can also be a model. As such, this book modestly saves the series from monumentality.”
-- Nathan Holmes ― Critical Inquiry

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Duke University Press Books; 1st edition (August 8, 2014)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 280 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0822357178
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0822357179
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 14.3 ounces
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 5.8 x 0.6 x 8.1 inches

All copies are new.