Down to the wire
HIS Baltimore-set series The Wire has been dubbed the best TV program ever made, with a cult worldwide following, but David Simon is ‘‘amazed’’ his screen career is still alive.
Though critically acclaimed, The Wire met with poor ratings when it aired in the US from 2002-08.
‘‘Of all the people who’ve never found an audience, I have the longest and most viable career of anybody,’’ the crimereporter-turned-TV-auteur tells a masterclass at the Forum des Images film centre in Paris.
‘‘Every year I am more and more amazed. The joke is, when viewers started showing up we were two years, three years off the air. They were finding it on DVD and through word of mouth.’’
The Wire – which portrays the different facets of Baltimore, from drug-ravaged housing projects, to down-at-heel docks, crumbling public schools and corrupt institutions – was nearly pulled twice from US cable network HBO because it lacked viewers.
‘‘I set about writing memos, and begging, and wrapping my arms around the legs of HBO executives,’’ says Simon.
‘‘I couldn’t bear the thought of not finishing the story.’’
Simon attributes low ratings to a largely African-American cast, complex plot and use of thick street jargon, though it has gone on to become well watched on DVD.
He went on to create the series Treme, about a cast of characters rebuilding their lives in Hurricane Katrina-ravaged New Orleans, which has just received the green light for a fourth and final season. What’s next for Simon? ‘‘At some point HBO may figure out that nobody’s watching what I do,’’ he says. ‘‘I always keep one suitcase packed.’’
Mondays, 7.30pm; encores Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays, various times, Showcase.