Friday, September 18, 2009

What to Watch

I'm a huge fan of The Wire, still mourning the fact that the series ended. If, like me, you need a fix of gritty reality, tune in to the Sundance Channel next week for the documentary mini-series Brick City (it airs M-F at 10 PM). It's probably unfair to compare the two, as The Wire was realistic fiction while Brick City is reality without fiction, but the focus on lives large and small and on the ways various people struggle to find meaning in the middle of crushing poverty, racism, and crime, and the ways these same people must function within and against institutions while they carry on this struggle, is the thematic center of both series. If you loved one, you'll love the other.

Brick City presents approximately six months in the life of Newark, NJ. We watch first-term mayor Cory Booker cheerlead, exhort, and politically manipulate. We watch Booker's new Director of Police attempt to reform the department, focus on Comstat in attempting to reduce the murder rate, and battle against the old school Chief of Police for control of the men. We watch Jayda, an ex-Blood, and her boyfriend Creep, an ex-Crip, attempt to make a life together and raise a family despite the odds. We watch the residents of Newark's Central Ward fight to get a new high school opened, and we watch the principal and vice-principal of that school fight to keep their students in the classroom and off the streets.

Because this is reality rather than fiction, small plot arcs structure the individual episodes, while the series begins and ends in medias res. Solutions to the failure of the American city are in short supply, and wouldn't be found in six months at any rate. If the series has a failing, however, it's the fact that it feels truncated; five hours is just enough to make you want to see more. All in all, it's worth watching, and undoubtedly better than whatever else is on weeknights at 10 PM. I recommend it.

1 comment:

tunsie said...

I am back from KUTZTOWN UNIVERSITY......tunsie