I’m the first to admit that I don’t know much about American politics, but I do know a lot about American television. Through American television, by osmosis, I know a lot about America. And, as the following brilliant article by Peter Aspden for the Financial Times website points out…
… Barack Obama knows a lot about America, too:
“Late last year, in a poll in the US’s TV Guide, The Wire was revealed to be one of Barack Obama’s favourite shows. (Some context: Hillary Clinton responded with, among others, American Idol, while Mitt Romney chose Lost.)”
If Barack Obama watches The Wire, you can rest assured that he knows his country. The Wire shows America at its rawest, exposing not only its dirty underbelly but its filthy head, shoulders and scabby knees too. It’s easy to call The Sopranos The Greatest Television Show Ever Made because, by Hell, it is. But so is The Wire. There’s a certain fantastical edge to The Sopranos, a slickness, a poise, that means it’s not 100% believable, good as it is, but The Wire is so believable that you can almost smell the stink of crack dens, drug money and corruption (which, looking at the evidence, whiffs of cigars and briefcase leather).
Season five – its last – began airing on HBO this week in the US, and the show has lost none of its power. As Aspden points out, this isn’t a series you can pick up on late in the day: you need to watch it from the start. But, if you need proof that The Wire is the show for you, check out this episode’s pre-credits teaser, which has a bunch of Baltimore homicide detectives tricking a suspect into thinking he’s taking a lie detector test by taping his hand to a photocopier.
I’m not saying Barack Obama needs to learn tricks like this, but if he’s watching, it means he understands what drove them to do it. And that’s reason enough for him to become the most powerful man on Earth.
Maybe then he can do something about it.