The Wire is an American television drama set and produced in Baltimore, Maryland. Created, produced, and primarily written by author and former police reporter David Simon, the series is broadcast by the premium cable network HBO in the United States. The Wire premiered on June 2, 2002, with 50 episodes airing over the course of its first four seasons. The fifth season, which Simon has said will be the show's last, premiered on January 6, 2008.
The plot of the first season centers on the ongoing struggles between police units and drug-dealing gangs on the west side of the city, and is told from both points of view. Subsequent seasons have focused on other facets of the city. The large cast consists mainly of character actors who are little known for their other roles. Simon has said that despite its presentation as a crime drama, the show is "really about the American city, and about how we live together. It's about how institutions have an effect on individuals, and how... whether you're a cop, a longshoreman, a drug dealer, a politician, a judge [or] lawyer, you are ultimately compromised and must contend with whatever institution you've committed to."
The Wire has received critical acclaim for its realistic portrayal of urban life and uncommonly deep exploration of sociological themes, and has been called the best show on television by TIME, Entertainment Weekly, The Guardian, the Chicago Tribune, Slate, the San Francisco Chronicle and the Philadelphia Daily News.