From 2002 to 2008, HBO’s crime drama The Wire fought against low ratings and rejection from most television awards committees and went on to cement itself as one of the most important series to ever air. The brainchild of former police reporter David Simon, The Wire captured the intricate relationships between the impoverished people of Baltimore, law enforcement, local government and organized crime.
In its five seasons, The Wire built a reputation for being “commitment TV,” where a single episode couldn’t be missed, thanks to stellar performances from onscreen veterans and newcomers alike. Fresh faces like Michael B. Jordan, Tristan Wilds and Tray Chaney made their introductions while veterans like Clarke Peters, Reg E. Cathey and Wendell Pierce brought the dramatic weight in every scene. Not to mention Idris Elba, Wood Harris and Sonja Sohn cemented themselves as stars in their own right.
While The Wire never won a single Primetime Emmy Award, in the decade since it has gone off the air, it has been celebrated by various entities for being one of the greatest shows of that decade. This past weekend at The American Black Film Festival Honors (ABFF), the show was honored with the Classic Television Award.
“It’s a classic in the true sense of what it means to be a classic,” says Wendell Pierce, who played Detective William “Bunk” Moreland. “It speaks to people’s humanity…and long after we’re gone it will speak to people because it’s authentic.”
Andre Royo, who played Reginald “Bubbles” Cousins, spoke to the early rejection of the show and how they stayed true to their mission despite it.
“In the middle of season one we were getting bad ratings. It was Sopranos, Sex and The City, Six Feet Under — and I remember going to David Simon’s office going ‘Yo, they hate us. The Shield and Boston Legal are getting nominated. They hate us.’ And he said I’m not gonna dumb down my stuff. The audience will rewatch this show over and over again.’ I said this white boy is crazy. But he wasn’t. He wasn’t wrong. He believed in the audience. He believed that people wanted to be educated.”
In addition to Royo and Pierce, Sonja Sohn, J.D. Williams, Lance Reddick, Michael K. Williams, Jamie Hector and Glynn Turman were also in attendance.
Congratulations to the cast of The Wire for their recognition.