A reader writes about The Wire:

I don't think Baltimore sank The Wire - between Homocide and Hairspray the city is actually cool for a city with no beaches or fashion industry. I also don't think it's complexity - people love Lost and that show doesn't make any sense. But I agree with you and a lot of other people that its largely black cast could not have helped it with white viewers, which is what the Emmy voters are. Did you notice that Prezbo was the only white character on almost every episode in Season 4? Probably most Wire fans didn't notice, didn't care, or patted themselves on the back for watching the show anyway, but I bet my great uncle from NE Pennsylvania who can't articulate why he doesn't want to vote for Barack Obama would.

But my point is that maybe it's that white people don't empathize with black characters, though it's hard to believe anyone with kids wouldn't be riveted by Nay, Randy, Dukie, and Michael in Season 4. Part of it had to be the dialogue. Some of the characters in the game (I hate that phrase but it's the only one I can think of) would have been pretty confusing for my great uncle to follow. Especially Snoop. The conversation she has with the hardware store employee in the first few minutes of Season 5 is probably how lots and lots of white people viewed the show. And I'll admit it - sometimes I put the subtitles on when she was on the screen, but that was at least partially because she's the most quotable person on the show ("you earned that buck like a motherfucker".) But the dialogue had to be off putting for some people.

Anyway, any show with that much loyalty generates a lot of opinions.

Interesting. I tend to believe that great narrative and character conquers all--even color. But then, I'm a writer. I have a stake in believing that.

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