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Everyone’s been raving about two shows lately: True Detective and House of Cards. Awesomest shows on TV everyone’s been telling me (technically House of Cards is Netflix). Not wanting to be left out of the loop I decided to give both of them a shot. To say I was disappointed would be an understatement.
Some nudniks have gone so far to say that these shows are actually in the same category as The Wire, Breaking Bad, and Sopranos. You people are completely out of your minds, and I just wanna settle this once and for all. I was inspired to write this after reading another hack job blog on Barstool. This time it was one from “Feitelberg”, one of the Boston writers. The blog was entitled Why do people love the intro to The Wire so much? But most of it was just shitting on the greatest show of all time:
“I’ve never seen The Wire. I started watching it last week and had sent out a few tweets about it at night. The first night I said something along the lines of “Don’t see the high praise. Fine show but not among the greats.” By and large, people agreed with me. Some said it didn’t stand the test of time, others said it’s always been overrated and a lot said to wait until season 3 even though season 2 is apparently awful. And I stand by not loving it, when I’m watching The Wire it’s not must-see TV. I don’t turn out the lights and throw my phone to the other side of the room to avoid distractions. It’s a good show, I have no problem watching it, but I certainly don’t treat it like Breaking Bad, True Detective, The Sopranos, etc.”
I’m honestly not surprised by this at all. Look, Barstool doesn’t hire writers because they’re smart people. And to understand the greatness of The Wire, you have to be able to be entertained by great acting, character development, authenticity, and realism. Most importantly, you can never, ever afford to zone out for a scene, and you have to be invested in the characters. That’s what great shows make you do. Barstool writers are talentless hacks who have nothing to offer so they just say fuck a bunch of times and leech off of El Presidente for sustenance.
If you’re into fantasy shit like The Walking Dead then that’s cool. Totally different category. It’s fantasy, not reality. The Wire and Sopranos were real as shit. They made the viewer feel like they were examining a subculture of Americana that they we’re not exposed to in Middle America. Breaking Bad I felt the same way. Here’s my ranking for these five shows…..
5. True Detective.
Originality of this show is pretty weak. Good cop, bad cop. Detectives whose personal lives are effected by their obsession with solving cases. Sound familiar? That’s because they stole it from Jimmy McNulty.
Acting is by far the best thing this show has going for it. And by acting I mainly mean Matthew McConnaughey. It’s the best roll I’ve ever seen him in. Woody Harrelson is good in it too, but he’s basically a type casted actor. He can only play the alcoholic with a heart of gold who always gives into temptation.
Setting of this show is pretty solid. I think. I’ve never been to Louisiana, but this is exactly how I pictured it. The scenery, the accents, the toothless masses who are entertained by evangelic revivalists. That’s exactly how I pictured Louisiana.
Realism of this show is what keeps it from being taken seriously in my opinion. Yea sorry, but a spaghetti faced monster going around doing human sacrifices just isn’t something I can take seriously.
Zoning out factor is weak on this show. The conversations are important, but they’re pretty boring. And let’s face it, that’s what 90% of this show is. I can only watch Matthew McConaughey say some really deep and weird monologue about ritualistic killings so many times.
Character development simply doesn’t exist in this show. They’re the exact same guys in 1995 that they are in 2010. Rust is still a weirdo, and Marty is still a womanizing man whore. One just now lives in a storage unit and the other lives is lonely single guy in an apartment.
Investment in the characters doesn’t really exist either. I don’t really give a shit what happens to Rust. I kind of am tied to Marty more because he seems more like a believable human being, but I assume they’re gonna kill him off to make him the tragic hero.
4. House of Cards.
Originality of this show is pretty solid. No one’s really done a show like this on the inner workings of Capitol Hill. Definitely the strength of this show.
Acting is great. You can’t beat Kevin Spacey. I hate his wife too, which means she’s doing a good job. I hated her more when she was Jenny from Forrest Gump though.
Setting is fine I guess. I mean, it looks like Washington D.C.
Realism is good, but to a degree. Al the vote swapping, back room deals, and obsession with getting re-relected is pretty much exactly how I imagine politics. But yea, the Vice President of the United States being a double murderer and closet homosexual seems a bit much.
Zoning out factor does tend to happen in this show, although it happens a lot more in the first season. The conversations are all pretty important and get to the point. It just gets a little repetitive.
Character development of this show sucks. Frank and his idiot wife are grade A dooshnozzles from day one. Every time a character starts to develop (Peter Rousseu, Zoe Barnes) they kill them off.
Investment in the characters for this show is both good and bad. I want to see Frank get eaten by Vladimir Putin’s dogs. I want to see the head of the teacher’s union bash his brains in. I want to see the good guys win SOMETIMES. But the bad guys ALWAYS win in this show. Always. I know that’s what some people like about this and everything can be roses and cupcakes, but the fact that Frank and his idiot wife always win just bugs me.
Originality of this show is top notch. They’ve done mob movies before, but every time the character turns into a multimillionaire, drug addicted psychopath. In this show the mob balances business and family life like it’s never been done before.
Acting is top notch. Pauly Walnuts, Silvio, Ralphy, Tony – basically everyone on this show makes you believe the mob is real.
Setting is what sets it apart from all other mob movies and TV shows (no pun intended). It’s so Jersey I can taste it. The crowded neighborhoods, the random landfills, the industrial smog. It’s just so damn authentic. Almost every scene is shot somewhere in Jersey. From the mean streets of the Boonton projects, to the castles of Montclair.
Realism is pretty solid. I would imagine. I’ve never been in the mob, but this is pretty much how I pictured it.
Zoning out factor for this show is what keeps it from being number one. There were WAYYY too many pointless scenes in the Sopranos. Sorry, but I don’t need to watch Meadow meet with her guidance counselor about what college to go to. I don’t need to see an entire episode about Carmella’s trip to Paris. I can only watch Tony talk about his feelings with Dr. Melfi so many times. And I definitely don’t need to watch an entire episode about a weird dream Tony had that ended up foreshadowing absolutely nothing.
Character development is good and bad. You really get to understand the inner workings of Tony Soprano as the show goes along, but ultimately he’s the same fucked up person the entire show. The whole gay thing with Vito though, and the downfall of Jackie Jr., Adrianna, Pussy, Christopher, Jonny Sac, and countless others, is an awesome aspect of the show. The problem is whenever a character goes through a change, they have to die. That’s the rule.
Investment in the characters is kind of like House of Cards. The most dislikable characters all have the last name Soprano. His evil Mom, his insane sister, his fat loser son, his annoying liberal free thinking daughter, his demented uncle, his wife who they want you to like, and his selfish self. All of them are pieces of shit.
2. Breaking Bad.
Originality for this show is OK. They stole the idea from Weeds, but they just did a much, much, much better job with it.
Acting is great. Brian Cranston does an awesome job making you believe he’s a nervous family man in way over his head. Uncle Hank is great as the “drugs are bad” detective. Skyler, and his idiotic sister in law make you dislike them, which of course means they’re doing a good job acting. Even Walt Jr., who most people hate, really sells his character well.
Setting is amazing, and also very original. They were originally going to make the setting in California, but New Mexico was a much better option. When I watch the show I begin to really understand why the federal government decided to test atomic bombs out there. It always looks hot, and there seems to be an endless supply of desert.
Realism is good at first, but then gets a little ridiculous. Most people like the later seasons of Breaking Bad. I like the earlier seasons when he was trying to balance being a meth cook, a high school teacher, and a Dad. I’ll always remember the Gus death scene, but let’s be honest – that was a little far fetched. And there were a lot of scenes like that.
Zoning out factor is another one of the strengths of this show. Not once was I ever tempted to pick up my cell phone and go on Facebook during this show. Every single scene is compelling as Walt tries to keep his life from spiraling out of control.
Character development is what most people recognize as why this is such a great show. No one develops except for Walt, who goes from loving father to psychopathic murderer. The producers did a great job with the scene where Walt admits to Skyler that he wasn’t doing this all for his family. That he did it because he loved it. He found it thrilling. We all kind of knew that the whole time, but he admits it to his wife, which Tony Soprano never does (he only admits those things to Dr. Melfi). True Detective simply doesn’t have scenes like this.
Investment in the characters is something I consider great for this show, but others seem to disagree. I loved Walt. I wanted him to win. I don’t care that he tried to kill that little Mexican boy. I just don’t. I knew where he was coming from when this whole thing started, and I just felt bad for him. Jesse Pinkman was one of the great characters of all time in this show as well. Anyone who wasn’t rooting for Jesse has no soul.
1. The Wire
Originality was off the charts. No one has ever put a show together that examines the causes and effects of drug culture on the police (season 1), international trade (season 2), politics (season 3), the schools (season 4), and the media (season 5). This show is simply untouchable in that regard.
Acting was flawless. I had no idea that McNulty and Stringer Bell were British guys in real life. Marlo Stanfeld gives you chills when he spoke in his whispering and confident voice. DeAngelo Barksdale asking Stringer “Where Wallace at?” is one of the most legendary performances of all time. Clay Davis’ performance on the stand at his own trial. Bodie protecting his corner before getting shot. Every scene that Bubble is in. Wallace whimpering and saying, “but you my niggas” before getting shot by his best friends. Omar taking the stand against Bird and telling Levy that they’re both gangsters, but “I carry a shotgun, and you carry a briefcase.” Snoop buying a drill for unknown reasons at home depot. All these scenes and countless others make this show legendary.
Setting was top notch. The griminess of the public schools, the blue collarness at the docks, and of course the greatest setting ever – Hamsterdam – is yet another reason that this is the greatest show of all time.
The Realism of this show was pretty damn good. I think. I’ve never been a drug dealer from Baltimore, but I would imagine that’s what it’s like. I did go to an urban public school and saw how kids from shitty homes act towards teachers in season four. I have seen countless politicians spout one liners like Carcetti. I have seen talentless hacks that kiss ass and cheat advance in their careers (Rawls, Burrell, Templeton the reporter who makes up stories), while people who are genuine and really good at what they do lose their jobs (McNulty, Bunny Colvin).
Zoning out factor might be the biggest weakness of the show. I wish they didn’t whisper so much. I liked Daniels character, but I just wish he spoke louder. Also, I had to pause it a lot to explain to my wife what they were talking about. Definitely learned an entirely new language from this show.
Character development is simply incomparable to any other show ever made. Three major characters evolve during this show: Bodie, Carver, and Bubbles. Bodie you hate at first because he’s a punk who kills Wallace. By the end you absolutely love him because he’s the only relic left from Avon Barksdale’s crew that isn’t kissing Marlo’s ass. Carver is a punk cop at first. By the end he’s transformed into the new Bunny Colvin – your classic “good police” who cares about protecting the good people in the neighborhoods, instead of beating the shit out of the bad people. Bubbles slowly evolves from a drug addict to a former drug addict that wants to help people out. Oh yea, and in the end, the message of the show is that good guys don’t usually win and the cycle of poverty repeated itself. Herc becomes the new Levy. Michael becomes Omar. Chris becomes Wee-Bay. Dukie becomes Bubbles. The show is amazing.
Investment in characters is the last reason this show is unbeatable. When DeAngelo gets killed and McNulty rubs it in his Mother’s face that it was her fault. When Wallace and Bodie get killed. When Brother Mazzone and Omar team up to blast Stringer. Chris scares the shit out of you every time you see him, then when he beats the shit out of the Michael’s stepdad when he finds out he was a molester, you can see why he’s such a cold and calculated killer – because he too was abused when he was younger. I got invested in charters from this show like none other. Absolutely brilliant.
So yea, nothing compares to The Wire, and True Detective is the most overrated show I’ve ever seen. The end.
Feel free to share your thoughts to keep the conversation going.
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