David Simon explains The Wire and American cities to overseas viewers:

That is the context of The Wire and that is the only context in which Baltimore – and by reasonable extension, urban America – can be fairly regarded. There are two Americas – separate, unequal, and no longer even acknowledging each other except on the barest cultural terms. In the one nation, new millionaires are minted every day. In the other, human beings no longer necessary to our economy, to our society, are being devalued and destroyed. Both things are true, and one gets a sense, reading the distant reaction to The Wire, that Europeans are far more ready to be convinced by one vision than the other.

And wow, I’m just quoting these two paragraphs because they should be quoted:

In places like West Baltimore, the drug war destroyed every last thing that the drugs themselves left standing – including the credibility of the police deterrent. To elect one man to higher office, an entire city alienated its citizenry and destroyed its juror pool.

Mayor O’Malley is now Governor O’Malley. The police commanders have all been promoted. A daily newspaper that had no stomach for addressing the why a decade ago when it had 400 editors and reporters, a newspaper more consumed with prize submissions and gotcha stories than with complex analysis of its city’s problems, now has 220 bodies in its newsroom and is even less capable of the task. And nothing, of course, changes.