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THE WIRE VS SNOWFALL DEBATE: STOP THIS MADNESS.

Updated: Apr 30, 2023




Since the brilliant Series Finale of FX’s Snowfall last week, I’ve been seeing “better than/worse than” The Wire debates popping up across all social media platforms. This is a loaded topic because of The Wire’s cult following and merit as one of the greatest television shows of all time (rightfully so).

But the two franchises are so vastly different in their genetic makeup, it’s an unfair comparison. They may SEEM similar in theme and genre but they are not remotely similar and for the sake of understanding television, I am going to tell you why this ludicrous conversation needs to stop.

NUMBER ONE: THERE WILL NEVER BE ANOTHER SHOW AS GOOD AS THE WIRE.

Period. Done. End of discussion. Knock it off.





There will never be another show as good as The Wire. Part of the reason for that is nostalgia. The Wire first aired on HBO in 2002. At that time, network television was the most common form of entertainment for most households. The top four scripted shows on the air were: CSI (which was fairly new), FRIENDS, E.R. and EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND. The top unscripted shows were AMERICAN IDOL and SURVIVOR. HBO arrived on the scene with original content and it was a breath of fresh air for those of us who craved a higher quality of storytelling on television. It was a NOVELTY to use real language, show actual true to life violence: cinema verite on a small screen. Nothing will ever capture the experience of turning on The Wire for the first time and watching a show written so astonishingly well that it felt like we were sitting on the couch in the pit with D’Angelo, we were afraid of Avon Barksdale, we all wanted to be McNulty and we all loved Bunk like he was our partner. The world was so truthfully depicted you couldn’t take your eyes off the tv… And it was doing that for an audience for the first time in television history. Imagine THAT after getting your crime show fix from CSI or NYPD BLUE.


The Wire is lightning in a bottle from the writing, to the acting to the naturalistic directing. It was special then. It is special now. When you try to compare any show to The Wire, you are comparing it to a magical viewing experience that transcends “just television” and no other show could ever compare to that. So like I said, don’t even try. Knock it off. This doesn’t mean Snowfall isn’t genius in its own right.

NUMBER TWO: SNOWFALL IS A FIVE SEASON LIMITED SERIES NOT A SHOW.


A television show is a collection of stories about a world where people we love or love to hate solve problems over and over again. A limited series is the story of an event told over an extended period of time.

THE WIRE is a show about Baltimore in (what was then) the present day. Over the course of five seasons, we were shown a different aspect of corruption in Baltimore and the people involved in that corruption and/or trying to stop it. There was no end to the world. Those characters are still living in Baltimore, the cops and robbers story will never end there, the corruption will never end there. It is a classic television show structure on every level.


SNOWFALL is the story of the CIA’s undercover operation to sell drugs to Black Americans and use the illegal money to fund a coup in Nicaragua in the 1980s. This is an actual event that happened in United States History. Snowfall is a period piece that tells the tale of this true event over the course of six seasons. The series ends when the CIA op ends.


Snowfall is not just about corruption it is about how the American Dream (capitalism) corrupts. If you look at Snowfall through that prism, the character arcs are mind blowing.

The Wire is a depiction of actual life occurring in “present day”, Snowfall is the story of an event that happened in the past.


You CANNOT compare the two. They are not remotely the same.

NUMBER THREE: THEY ARE BOTH EQUALLY IMPORTANT. ONE DOESN’T HAVE TO BE BETTER.

The Wire vs Snowfall is irrelevant. Stop this useless conversation. Snowfall and The Wire are both masterclasses in storytelling, in building characters and following through with those characters' arcs.

You should watch them both. WATCH THEM BOTH.





Snowfall could never be as good as The Wire because NOTHING will ever be as good as The Wire. But that doesn’t mean Snowfall isn’t ALSO genius.

The only debate we should be having about these two shows is how in the world we could have lost so much talent with the deaths of Michael K. Williams, Lance Reddick and John Singleton in such a short amount of time. Incredible talent. From two incredible shows. That need not be compared.




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I have a dilemma with as a friend of mine Slick directed 2 terrific episodes of Snowfall. Both shows are great. Peace.

Curtir
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