By Alan Bean
I learned about The Wire from former homicide detective Ed Burns. He was sitting next to me at a convening of people concerned about the abuse of snitch testimony. “What do you do?” I asked. When he told me he co-produced The Wire I said, “what’s the wire?”
Burns took my gnorance in stride. “It’s an HBO drama about the war on drugs,” he replied. I suspect I wasn’t the first person Burns had met who hadn’t heard of The Wire, a production widely regarded as the best dramatic series in the history of television. The show had a rabidly loyal following, but it never rivalled HBO productions like The Sopranos. The subject matter was gritty, intense, profane and troubling. But from the moment we popped in the first rented DVD, my wife and I were hooked.
Sonja Sohn played Detective Shakima “Kima” Greggs on The Wire, a role she initially struggled with. Like the “corner boys” of Baltimore featured in The Wire, Sohn grew up in a world marked by deprivation, street hustling, violence and fear. According to this Washington Post article, playing a cop was hard for Sohn; in the world she was raised in, law enforcement was the enemy.
The Wire played for five critically acclaimed seasons before Ed Burns and co-producer David Simon moved on to other things. Sohn couldn’t move on. The streets of Baltimore were wrapped around her soul. This feature article in the Post is worthy of your time, and your reflection.
By Phil Zabriskie, Published: January 27