Is Anyone Else Going Through 'Wire' Withdrawal?

What are we to do after our favorite show’s less-than-satisfying series finale? Keep talking about it. Oh, The Wire: your love is a 187.

But worry not, y’all. We got that pandemic. Or, uh…some links and minutiae, anyway.

Ever wonder where Clay Davis’s distinctive ‘Sheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeit?‘ comes from? Isiah Whitlock, Jr., the actor behind the brilliant portrayal of oleaginous state senator, breaks it down.

It was something my uncle used to do all the time. Growing up, he would do it five six seven times a day. You’d go, “Did you sleep well?” and he’d go, “Ah, sheeet, my head was on the pillow.” I would every now and then just do it in conversations.

I was having a conversation with Spike Lee one time, I think we were talking about football, and I did it, and he said, “You should keep that and use it. ut football, and I did it, and he said, “You should keep that and use it.” So that’s where I started doing it. I did it in “The 25th Hour,” that was the first time I did it.”

After he used it on the set of The 25th Hour, Spike Lee told him to keep it in for the film.

Apparently Spike was also in talks with Burns, Simon, & Co. to direct an episode of Season Four (really?), so Simon said that while Whitlock may have come up with it on his own, they heard Whitlock’s Southern accent and started writing it in to the script independently.

Michelle Paress, the actress who played newbie reporter Alma Gutierrez, is married to Larry Gilliard, Jr., the actor who played D’Angelo Barksdale.

On The Media‘s Mark Phillips sat down with David Simon and Ed Burns, and talked to some of the show’s biggest fans in the news media, like the Atlantic‘s Jeffrey Goldberg.

Just how bad were the finale’s ratings? Let’s just say, it’s amazing that the show wasn’t canceled a long time ago.

The premiere of Sunday night’s series finale of HBO’s The Wire was seen by 1.1 million viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research.
That represents about 4 percent of homes that subscribe to HBO — or less than 1 percent of the American TV audience.

By comparison, the June 10 finale of HBO’s crime drama The Sopranos drew 11.9 million viewers, according to Nielsen.

The cable channel’s surfer series John From Cincinnati was seen by 1.2 million viewers on Aug. 12 — the last night it aired before being canceled at the end of its first season.

HBO did not offer viewers the chance to see the finale of The Wire in advance of Sunday’s premiere via On Demand as it had done with the previous nine episodes this season. So, the Sunday night audience is the most representative for any episode that had been measured this season by Nielsen.

According to HBO, another 700,000 viewers watched an 11 p.m. replay of the finale making for a cumulative audience of 1.8 million viewers Sunday.

The final episode of Season 4, which was set in Baltimore city schools, was seen by 1.9 million viewers, according to a spokesman for the cable channel. It aired only once, on Dec. 10, 2006.

With the option of On Demand viewing, the series had been averaging about 1 million viewers a week this season for its Sunday night premieres on HBO. Subscribers can still see the finale On Demand.

While the show’s dense plotting, humongous cast, and (initially) impenetrable jargon, it makes sense that viewers stayed away in droves. We can’t help wondering what the ratings would look like if the show’s cast wasn’t largely black and so many of the characters weren’t poor (The Sopranos was more graphically violent; Six Feet Under was leaps and bounds more pretentious than Season Five of The Wire could ever be).

Finally, a trailer for Generation Kill, a new miniseries about the 2003 invasion of Iraq by Burns and Simon.



Gene "G.D." Demby is the founder and editor of PostBourgie. In his day job, he blogs and reports on race and ethnicity for NPR's Code Switch team.