David Simon of The Wire is awarded the MacArthur Fellowship of $500,000 by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Simon, a writer and producer, is best known as the creator and executive producer of HBO‘s critically acclaimed TV series The Wire. What is also known as the Genuis Award was granted to 23 people this year. “We’re looking for creativity, brilliance and potential,” says Robert Gallucci, the foundation’s president, as reported at USA Today.
David Simon’s The Wire is considered one of the best TV dramas
If you are a fan of HBO‘s The Wire, a TV drama series written and produced by David Simon that ended on March 9, 2008, you are a fan of one of the most, if not the most, realistic drama series ever. The Wire was more than just excellent acting, the story-lines depicted situations that could actually happen, without the Hollywood fix-me-up that will happen to story lines to make them more entertaining and palatable. Says Simon, “I can’t go in and wave Emmy awards, I can’t go in and wave Nielsen ratings when I try to get one of these stories told. I can, however, do these stories that actually are not so much about what’s on the entertainment page but maybe about what’s on the op ed. And maybe about what needs to be discussed rather than what’s easy to discuss.”
As William Julius Wilson, a 1987 Genius Award recipient and Lewis P. and Linda L. Geyser University Professor at Harvard University, whose book When Work Disappears is David Simon’s inspiration for season 2 of The Wire, noted, “In watching this fictional drama, viewers gain a new understanding of the multifaceted and interrelated aspects of the structure of urban inequality that so profoundly shape the lives and life chances of poor inner-city residents and come away with a greater appreciation of the incredible challenges they face in their day-to-day lives.”
The Wire may not have what’s needed to compete with a Law and Order, but it offered good food that the public should eat. Although The Wire is no longer on HBO, it can be found at Netflix, for example.
At Harvard University, David Simon’s The Wire becomes a class
The Wire is enough of an influential TV drama that Harvard has created a class about it. Urban Inequality and The Wire will be taught by William Julius Wilson and Anmol Chaddha. Is it just sitting around and watching episodes? Hardly. This is Harvard, and together with episodes of David Simon’s The Wire is a reading list a mile long.
As reported in the article Why we’re teaching ‘The Wire’ at Harvard, “Of course, our undergraduate students will read rigorous academic studies of the urban job market, education and the drug war. But the HBO series does what these texts can’t. More than simply telling a gripping story, The Wire shows how the deep inequality in inner-city America results from the web of lost jobs, bad schools, drugs, imprisonment, and how the situation feeds on itself.”
Betty Klinck, MacArthur genius grants: Teacher, jazz pianist among 23 winners, USA Today
Alison Flood, The Wire creator David Simon wins ‘genius’ grant, Guardian
Anmol Chaddha and William Julius Wilson, Why we’re teaching ‘The Wire’ at Harvard, Washington Post
Jolie du Pre, My Interview with William Julius Wilson of When Work Disappears, the Influence for Season 2 of HBO’s The Wire, Associated Content