Friday, January 04, 2008

Are You Excited About the Final Season of The Wire?

New York magazine featured an interview with Andre Royo, the actor who plays "Bubbles," the noble hero, homeless junkie and sometime confidential informant on the hit HBO series The Wire. The series' final season launches Sunday night, and I'm looking forward to it as much as any TV show in quite a long while. If nothing else, given my interest in "snitching," Royo's character surely is the most graphic portrayal of the cold realities of a street informant in the history of television.

Since we've been recently discussing public attitudes toward snitching, I found interesting his recollection of the real "Bubbles," who he'd met, and the informant's attitude toward working with police, revealed in the response to this question:

"Snitches or potential snitches on The Wire tend to get clipped. How is it that Bubbles, a confidential informant, has stayed alive for so long?
Being a snitch has a negative connotation in our community. I thought that might reflect on me. But Bubbles was a real-life character, he was an informant for [series producer] Ed Burns. He said that the whole neighborhood knew Bubbles was snitching, but they also knew he was a junkie and he was killing himself. What would be the point of getting a body when that person’s already killing himself? Snitching has more weight when it comes to turning on your boys, lying to your friends. If I come into a group and then I turn on my group, that’s a snitch. If I’m on the street, there’s no loyalty there. I’m just doing what I have to do to get high."



Anonymous said...

Interestingly, this show seems to be popular with only those working in the criminal justice fields, on both sides.This has become the thinking man's crime drama.q
HBO isn't promoting this a well as they should be, n o view-on-demand of the previous seasons.

Anonymous said...

"Thinking man's crime drama" - I like that. In the article Andre Royo also talked about the differences between acting on The Wire and Law & Order, and the director explaining "We're not as smart here as they are on The Wire."

The Wire - at least the two seasons of DVDs I have watched so far - is amazingly accurate in respect to how the work of dope dealers and the narcs is depicted. They oversimplified some things and over dramatized others, but overall it was quite true to real life.

Royo's depiction of Bubbles is an outstanding piece of acting. His explanation of how Bubbles survived shows great insight. Most instances of retaliation against informants, witnesses and complainants take place when there is a perception of owed loyalty and betrayal on the part of the offender. Sometimes a crook will threaten or harm a witness who is a stranger, but it's pretty rare. As Royo explained, it's just part of the game.

This series has been so well done and I will miss it when it's over, but better they end it while on top of their game than let it jump the shark.

Anonymous said...

I noticed this in the preview but neglected to fix it, and now, after re-reading my comment after publishing it, I want to clarify a point.

When I agreed with something Royo said by noting "it's just part of the game", I was referring to the general acknowledgment among dope dealers that there is a risk in their business of being ratted out by an informant who is unknown to them.

Anonymous said...

If you did away with "snitchin", all the Bubbles of the world would be in jail, and all the Stringers would be free and rich.
My favorite crook is Senator Clay Davis.....sheeeeeiiiiiiiiiiit!

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Of course, Stringer was "free and rich" until the day he died.

I agree about Davis - I've met a few quite like him - but my favorite crook is definitely Omar. The guy's a friggin warrior poet.

Anonymous said...

I'm excited to see what the producers/writers/directors of this
show will do next.

A few distantly related questions:

1. Has anyone read David Simon's book?

2. Can anyone identify any current newspaper journalists (local and national) who can match David Simon's expertise on the issues...

3. I don't know if you heard, Seth Gordon is producing a documentary based on Freakonomics. The section on the drug trade is probably going to be fascinating. Which would have made a better choice for a documentary, Freakonomics or Tipping Point?

Anonymous said...

Most def. I'm so excited that I've been walking around whistling "the Farmer in the Dell"...Like Grits says, Omar is a frigging warrior-poet. A riveting performer and fantastic character, but so are Bubbles and McNulty and Kimma and....
To warm up for this final season, we just rented the first season to watch one more time. Great fun to catch a lot of subtleties missed on earlier viewing. I started asking everyone I know if they had ever seen The Wire. Almost nobody has.
And why doesn't HBO promote it more?