By Stacey Harrison
When word got out last week that Baltimore police commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III called HBO’s crime drama The Wire “a smear on this city that will take decades to overcome,” the defenders came fast and furious.
Creator David Simon was first out of the gate, crafting a comprehensive rebuttal saying that the show, which since concluding its five-season run in 2008 has become one of the most revered series of recent memory, set out to shine a light on the futility of the drug war and the conditions among the city’s slums, police department and political arena that hampered any real progress. In short, “The Wire owes no apologies.” Soon after, star Lance Reddick — a Baltimore native — offered his own response, insisting that The Wire was telling a story about inner-city life in the United States “that doesn’t get told, except in two-dimensional stereotypes. So if that’s a smear, I’m sorry.”
Another Wire star has chimed in. I spoke with Domenick Lombardozzi, star of A&E’s upcoming Breakout Kings, who played Detective Thomas “Herc” Hauk on the series. He also put forth an impassioned defense of his old show.
“I think he should walk out his door and instead of getting into another car he should just walk around certain neighborhoods,” Lombardozzi says, “and he’ll realize that what David Simon was trying to say was not just hitting on Baltimore, but it was sort of expressing what’s happening in every little American city. You can’t deny what’s real. You can’t run away from that. To say that it’s shedding a dark light, well, help bring light to the situation. Realize that there’s a problem. You can only fix a problem when you realize there is a problem.”
He went on to say, “If you took [The Wire] for entertainment, that’s great, but if you learned from it, that’s even better. To realize kids need to be taught. If you look at the fourth season, kids need to be taught at a very young age in this society of the harmful things [out there]. If you wait till after middle school, it’s too late. It’s those kind of lessons that I personally feel made The Wire really special. There’s a lot to learn from it.”
Photo: Credit: Michael Gibson