There was television before The Wire. It existed. Characters were created by showrunners to appeal to consumers who bought duel-level washer dryers, had designer dogs while at the same time hiding their designer drug habit, and who felt safer when their TV’s were on. Smiling, accessible characters held family dysfunction at bay. Then came The Wire and everything changed.
The game done changed.
David Simon’s magnum opus reinvented the wheel, creating such round characters that at any moment you thought you could reach through your set and have a poke at Squad Sergeant, Jay Landsman’s, behemoth meat trunk. The police officers were corrupt. The corner boys had heart. It was like the world woke up from a winter doldrums nap and understood that good vs. bad wasn’t as clear cut as when Howdy Doody was manning the frontier.
With a bevy of the aforementioned colorful characters to choose to love & hate, it truly says a lot about one’s personality as to which ones draw the boo/ hiss bravado, and which ones don’t. What side of Hamsterdam do you fall on?
I ain’t no suit-wearin’ businessman like you… you know I’m just a gangsta I suppose…and I want my corners
We we liked him: Avon Barksdale revolutionized what it meant to be a drug dealer. His surname evoked a raw and real aesthetic that carried weight throughout Baltimore like the cargo ships making their way into the Inner Harbor. He didn’t need to idolize Al Pacino’s portrayal of Scarface; he lived it.
What it says about you: You’re in charge in every situation. The limelight suits and you’re not willing to play second fiddle to anyone. You may seeks others advice but you definitely don’t need their help.
All those mopes in bracelets and not one of them named Osama.
Why we liked him: He drank too much. He let his man baton lead him into every skeezer’s bedroom. He was natural police.
What it says about you: You’ve got demons that interfere with your life, but you wouldn’t change a thing about yourself. People rely on you, which is a cause of concern sometimes. You never let a hunch go unfounded.
That’s good. That’s like a 40-degree day. Ain’t nobody got nothing to say about a 40-degree day. Fifty. Bring a smile to your face. Sixty, shit, niggas is damn near barbecuing on that motherfucker. Go down to 20, niggas get their bitch on. Get their blood complaining. But forty? Nobody give a f-ck about 40. Nobody remember 40, and y’all niggas is giving me way too many 40-degree days! What the f-ck?
Why we liked him: Stringer was charismatic as much as we was cold-blooded. He brought a sense of business and structure to a crime syndicate that always teetered on the breaking point. He redefined the word “drug-dealer.”
What it says about you: You have no problem doing nasty things if those activities and tasks have an end game goal that lies with logic.
I’m just a humble motherf-cker with a big-ass dick.
Why we liked him: Bunk had a profane way with words that turned four-letter curse words into blue collar soliloquy’s. Like his pal McNulty, Bunk had a thirst that could hardly be quenched and a heart that was always in the right place.
What it says about you: When you’ve decided you want something or someone, you’re going to get it. There’s no stopping you.
You come at the king, you best not miss.
Why we liked him: Omar was a modern day Robin Hood. His code of the streets gave us a glimpse into the intestines of the criminal underbelly which bubbled from misuse. He was also one of the first openly homosexual characters on television who showed that lifestyle choices didn’t come at the cost of one’s perceived masculinity.
What it says about you: You root for the underdog.
They f-ck up, they get beat. We f-ck up, they give us pensions.
Why we liked him: Carver policed the rough city streets of West Baltimore with reckless disregard for policy or rules, which is exactly what all of us would do in a scenario where everyone loses. His war on drugs was just that; a war, where casualties were felt on both sides.
What it says about you: You’re a leader who doesn’t necessarily lead by example. Your heart is often times in the right place, but your methods border more on madness than on calculation.
This game is rigged, man. We like the little bitches on a chessboard.
Why we liked him: Bodie never changed. Often times we expect characters on television to go through an emotional arc, where they experience some kind of revelation, and become better people because of it. In the five year run, Bodie never graduated to kingpin status. He remained a sentry on the corner throughout.
What it says about you: You understand how things work, but don’t necessarily want to change a flawed system. Most of your gifts are what other people would call curses.
Thomas “Herc” Hauk
F-ck the paperwork. Collect bodies, split heads.
Why we liked him: Herc was an idiot. Surrounded by criminal masterminds and detectives who could argue bullet trajectory, he stuck out like a big toe that had become permanently discolored.
What it says about you: There is a utilitarian nature inside you. You show up. You’re told what to do. And you follow through. In a world where people flake, you can be counted on by friends and family alike.
Dennis “Cutty” Wise
The game done changed…
Why we liked him: Unlike Boadie, Cutty was someone who bettered himself amidst the chaos. After getting out of prison, he knew that the rat race of fiend chasing the pipe dream was something he could no longer plague the community with. His growth gave the show a sense of hope.
What it says about you: You’ve got demons, but are willing to, or have, exorcised them. You don’t expect anyone’s help, but aren’t afraid to ask for it.
Roland “Prez” Pryzbylewski
Trick ’em into thinking they aren’t learning, and they do.
Why we liked him: Prez saw that the cycle of ineptitude in Baltimore started when the “Stringers” and “Avons” of the world were still teenagers. After his untimely exit from the police force, he knew where he could best serve the community.
What it says about you: Even when you say you “don’t care,” you still do. You believe when others have long since abandoned positivity. Hope floats in your world.
My name is my name!
Why we liked him: Marlo gave knew meaning to the word “bad guy.” Whereas Stringer was calculated, and Avon was cold-hearted, Marlo formed like a scar-faced Voltron into the perfect drug pusher. He ruled his corners like the city blocks had a heartbeat and he had birthed them.
What it says about you: The quiet ones are usually the ones that you have to worry about. That means you.
How complex a code can it be if these knuckleheads are usin’ it? Then again, what does it say about us if we can’t break it?
Why we liked her: Kima was forced to work in a police department that was littered with degenerate, porn-enthused males whose ideas for “women being on top” was purely a sexual stance as opposed to a sociological one. We watched week after week as she showed the world that being the elephant in the room wasn’t always a bad thing.
What it says about you: You recognize that you’re different, but don’t necessarily see that as a good or bad thing. You often times need to dumb things down so as not to leave your peers in your proverbial dust.
I see you favor a .45.
Why we liked him: Brother Mouzone, meaning “judicious” in Arabic, wasn’t the normal New York City muscle we’d been accustomed to seeing in crime dramas. Sporting crisp suits and bowties, and seen reading publications like Harper’s, The Atlantic, The New Republic and The Nation, he was one of the more studious psychopaths we encountered on The Wire.
What it says about you: You’re a contrarian. Your differences define you.
Why’d you shoot Mike-Mike in his, um, hind parts, Mr. Little?
Why we liked him: Levy proved that “upstanding” citizens were more low-down than the drug dealers.
What it says about you: You are a lawyer.
Calvin “Cheese” Wagstaff
Ain’t no nostalgia to this sh-t here. There’s just the street and the game and what happen here today.
Why we liked him: Played by the one and only Method Man, his deceit and treachery lead to one of the better death scenes in the history of the series.
What it says about you: More times than not, you’re going to put yourself in the best possible position no matter how many people you have to screw over.
Look good, girl.
Why we liked him: Michael was us. We watched as he was thrust into a world of adult responsibilities when he was clearly not ready for those burdens. Like Michael, we’re all kids trapped in adult bodies with minds that say otherwise.
What it says about you: Your cerebral nature is never going to allow you to let bullsh-t come into your life like leaflets left on front porches. When you assess and calculate, you ensure that the other person is going to be the one that feels the pain.
So how do you get to be the king?
Why we liked him: Wallace had a conscience. In a world where morality came in serviceable doses, Wallace had a kilogram of kindness.
What it says about you: You do what’s right even when you know it’s going to negatively effect you.
You’re holding me to a high standard! I mean, Moses — Jesus, Reverend…
Why we liked him: We watched Councilman Carcetti become Mayor behind promises of actually cleaning up “the greatest city in America.” His navigation of the political clusterfuck showed the viewer that corruption comes easy like ordering a morning cup of java.
What it says about you: You want to make a difference but the follow-through is something that is less-than-appealing. You dream. You have a propensity to blow up on the launchpad.
You can look him in the eye now… no matter who he is or what he done you look him right in the eye.
Why we liked him: When Chris showed up on screen, someone was going to die and end up boarded up in a vacant building. His coldblooded nature gave rise to that murderous appetite in all of us.
What it says about you: You’re loyal to a fault. If everyone was jumping off a bridge, you’d jump too.
Felicia “Snoop” Pearson
How my hair look, Mike?
Why we liked her: Snoop wasn’t an actor. She’s a real gangster.
What it says about you: You’re defined by what you do for a living. You set out on a path, whether that was one of a righteous or destructive vision, and you wouldn’t reverse course if someone begged you to. Cold.
Howard “Bunny” Colvin
This drug thing, this ain’t police work. No, it ain’t. I mean, I can send any fool with a badge and a gun up on them corners and jack a crew and grab vials. But policing? I mean, you call something a war and pretty soon everybody gonna be running around acting like warriors. They gonna be running around on a damn crusade, storming corners, slapping on cuffs, racking up body counts. And when you at war, you need a f-cking enemy. And pretty soon, damn near everybody on every corner is your f-cking enemy. And soon the neighborhood that you’re supposed to be policing, that’s just occupied territory.
Why we liked him: Bunny may have been the sharpest tool the Baltimore PD had in their overworked shed. Sensing that he’d never be able to win the war on drugs, he realized that cleaning up a community came with large concessions. He did what he thought was right.
What it says about you: You think outside the box. You assess problems, no matter how big or small, and ultimately know there’s a way to work it out.
Game’s the same, just got more fierce.
Why we liked him: Slim Charles refused to kiss the crown.
What it says about you: You know there are clear consequences to every action, yet you still lead with your heart.
A life, Jimmy, you know what that is? It’s the shit that happens while you’re waiting for moments that never come.
Why we liked him: Lester was thinking man’s police. You were more likely to see him crafting handmade doll furniture than holding a jelly donut. He knew how to play every side and see everything from a unique vantage point.
What it says about you: You’re well-rounded, but there’s some holes that you’ve patched with a variety of vices that life offers.
Roland “Wee-Bey” Brice
Remember who the f-ck you talking to right here. Remember who I am. My word is still my word. In here, in Baltimore, in any place you can think of calling home, it’ll be my word that finds you… …You still got me. We’ll get by. But you gonna let go of that boy. Bet that.
Why we liked him: Wee-Bey was the ultimate West Baltimore soldier. He did his dirt and took the punishment when it caught up to him like a blustery wind. Even while in prison, he still had good acts to deliver for his son, Namond.
What it says about you: You’re more than one person’s best friend.
“Proposition” Joe Stewart
Wanna know what kills more police than bullets and liquor? Boredom. They just can’t handle that sh-t.
Why we liked him: Much like Stringer, Prop Joe brought a sophisticated and nuanced approach to illicit activity. He made class two felonies an art.
What it says about you: There’s always a deal to be made. Compromise comes out of necessity, not out of want.
Thin line between heaven and here.
Why we liked him: Bubbles was the ultimate underdog whose ebbs and flows were like the heroin inside his ten cent pistol. We rooted and he fell. We resigned ourselves to thinking that he was a goner and he’d once again rise. His perspective put us in the mind of all the slangers, bangers, junkies, juicers, patrollers and bracelet snappers. He was The Wire.
What it says about you: You’re better today than you were yesterday.
A man must have a code.