NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 21: David Simon attends HBO's "We Own This City" New York Premiere at Times Center on April 21, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Arturo Holmes/WireImage)
Movies - TV
Being In
The Wire Writers' Room
Was Like Watching A Title Fight
“The Wire” creator David Simon learned to write episodic TV during his tenure on "Homicide: Life on the Street," a series based on his book detailing his time embedded in the Baltimore Police Department's homicide unit. Realism was a priority when Simon built his writing team for “The Wire,” so he brought on Ed Burns, the lead detective in the wiretap case that Simon covered in ‘84 for the Baltimore Sun.
As collaborators on Burns was the push to Simon's pull when it came to plot direction. The result was combative, but it yielded rewards. Often they'd get into the macro as well as the micro, allowing a minor plot point to swell into deliberation over Baltimore's political system.
Season 2 staff writer Rafael Alvarez told The Guardian, “In one meeting, David and Ed went at it, over something I don't recall, for more than an hour-and-a-half, with the rest of us watching like it was Ali v Frazier." The pair had a contentious partnership regarding storytelling and accuracy while they both angled for narrative purchase.
And the show was better for it. The writhing relationship between art and truth provided ample room for mythos to enter into the show because its characters echoed the real-life cops, robbers, and addicts Burns and Simon came to know on the beat. This ensured that the characters contained hesitations and multitudes that gave them more depth than their fictional crime show predecessors.