The politics of The Wire (again)

Here's Ross and Jonah Goldberg talking sensibly about The Wire. Goldberg makes a solid argument for a conservative reading of the show, though sentences like this strike me as sloppy:

To the extent many liberals try to explain all of the problems of poor blacks on racism, the show was a powerful rebuttal.

I just get nervous when I read absolutes like "all of the problems." Bloggers would make for poor screenwriters. Ross rightly notes that Simon is, essentially, a liberal. But the point I like, made by both of them, is The Wire generally avoided propaganda. It was so focused on story-telling, and digging deep into character. From Ross:

t's a testament to the genius of the show that its depiction of Baltimore (and by extension, America) offers fodder for liberal, conservative, leftist and libertarian readings - much like reality itself! In this sense, The Wire is the rarest and most precious of beasts: A work of art that's intensely political but rarely devolves into agitprop.

I thought this was less true in Season Five, when a clear ideology did emerge, but it wasn't left or right. The ideology was nihilism. Now, nihilism was always at work in The Wire, but at the end, I felt like it just became too much. It felt like a desire to show futility of systems became the author of plot, not character. I thought that the press angle was poorly done--and saying "Yeah well it's reporters who are objecting" is a weak, ad-hominem defense.

I thought the serial killer turn--particularly the way Freeman embraced it--was hastily executed. I most disliked the ease with which Marlo took over the city's drug trade. I even hated the manner of Omar's death--not that he was killed by Kinard, but that he was basically brought back into the plot, simply to be killed. He really served no major plot point. It all felt deeply cynical.

Recommended Reading

Anyway, before I throw this to comments, a bit of essential concern-trolling Let me apologize to the vast majority of my commenters, but experience has taught me to handle this in advance. I know there are certain readers here who nurse a visceral dislike for Goldberg and Douthat. That's fine. But I will delete any personal flames, which have nothing to do with The Wire, directed at either of them. "Suchandsuch is right-wing prick who has blood on his hands because of blahblahblah," may be entirely true. I guess it's not that I disagree. It's that, for purposes of this thread, I just don't care. There may be people who find such trenchant insight interesting to read. But I'm not one of them. Plus it's off topic.

Carry on.