The Wire and the Disenchantment of the Outsider

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Abstract

This article presents a contextualist reading of the television serial The Wire (2002-2008). Drawing on Grace Hale’s A Nation of Outsiders (2011), the article argues that there is a tension between this show and its paratexts in the way that the creators of the show embrace an outsider rhetoric while the show tries to deromanticize the trope of the outsider. Drawing on Hale's study of how the outsider is potent figure of legitimacy and authority in US culture, the article argues that the producers of the show wholeheartedly embrace the romance of the outsider in an effort to gain legitimacy for themselves but in the analysis of selected characters from the show – Omar Little, Jimmy McNulty, and Stringer Bell – it is shown that these characters all are outsiders in different ways and that the show tries to debunk the charisma of the outsider that relates to these characters. This deromanticization of the outsider is an important part of the politics that the show espouses and the article argues that this rejection is a part of the show’s “sociological gaze” where all social phenomena are seen in relation to each other and the The Wire is shown not to buy into the notion of a free space beyond the restrictions of contemporary society that the romance of the outsider depends on.
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This article presents a contextualist reading of the television serial The Wire (2002-2008). Drawing on Grace Hale’s A Nation of Outsiders (2011), the article argues that there is a tension between this show and its paratexts in the way that the creators of the show embrace an outsider rhetoric while the show tries to deromanticize the trope of the outsider. Drawing on Hale's study of how the outsider is potent figure of legitimacy and authority in US culture, the article argues that the producers of the show wholeheartedly embrace the romance of the outsider in an effort to gain legitimacy for themselves but in the analysis of selected characters from the show – Omar Little, Jimmy McNulty, and Stringer Bell – it is shown that these characters all are outsiders in different ways and that the show tries to debunk the charisma of the outsider that relates to these characters. This deromanticization of the outsider is an important part of the politics that the show espouses and the article argues that this rejection is a part of the show’s “sociological gaze” where all social phenomena are seen in relation to each other and the The Wire is shown not to buy into the notion of a free space beyond the restrictions of contemporary society that the romance of the outsider depends on.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAmerican Studies in Scandinavia
Volume51
Issue number1
ISSN0044-8060
StateAccepted/In press - Apr 2019
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes

    Research areas

  • The Wire, outsiders, David Simon, television serials, television series

Projects

ID: 267410551