What Good Writing Should Do…

Originally Posted: November 3, 2010

Ok, so I admit that my TV watching is about a decade behind, thanks to my lovely daughters.  Lately, I’ve been watching recorded episodes of the HBO show, The Wire, and I’m hooked.

It’s a terrible thing, really, my new addiction.  I find myself sneaking off with my laptop and disks in the middle of family gatherings, or staying up (as I did last night) until 1 or 2 in the  morning, riveted to the urgent, often unsavory dilemmas of McNulty, Daniels and Barksdale.  (Last night, Greggs was shot and is now in ICU, her life in the balance)…

Ok, it’s a little rough, this show.  A little gory. But what I love about it is not just the adrenaline rush–the taut, incredible pacing, which always leaves you hanging and breathless at the end of an episode.  In addition to that, the writing and the acting are just so good.  The characters and situations in this series so multi-dimensional, so intricately complex, it’s impossible to identify ‘heroic’ characters from ‘evil’ ones, impossible to draw lines between black and white, good and bad.  Politicians are corrupt, yes, but not irrevocably so.  The murderers are twisted, and yet, you find yourself sympathizing with them, even, sometimes, rooting for them. Your favorite detective may also be a lousy father, or a drunk.  Just when you think you have someone pegged–as a prototype loser or a hero, a waste case or butt-kisser, that character completely surprises you, pulling from their depths a humanity that forces you to reconsider.

In short, the show does what good writing everywhere should do: it embraces the contradictions in life and human nature, revealing that people and situations are never simply one thing or another and rarely what they seem–multiple realities dwell beneath the surface for anyone daring enough to uncover them.

Posted by: Dori

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