Everytime I see John McWhorter’s byline I’m prepared to become infuriated, but he’s devilishly clever and totally correct about The Wire. David Simon has a lot of political opinions that strike me as somewhat unsound and that strike him as reflected in the show, but the actual content of the show is so good that it actually supports much more nuanced interpretation than the one Simon seems to have.
I do, however, worry a bit that Season 4 may get unsound in a heavy-handed way. In particular, there’s something of a cliché out there where we’re supposed to think that the reason kids get involved in drug dealing is that the school system isn’t good enough. The truth is probably more like the reverse — it’s more-or-less impossible to teach kids effectively when they’re too busy dealing drugs. School outcomes tend to follow socioeconomic conditions rather than determining them. I hope the show avoids that pitfall.