I'm far from the only person who has called The Wire one of, if not the, best things to ever grace a TV screen (even if I thought the last season drifted past credibility at times). I think that this interview with David Simon conducted via email by Nick Hornby for The Believer back in 2007 does the best job of capturing why so many people have felt so strongly about The Wire.
Tim Carmody, who pointed to the interview while sitting in for Kottke this past spring, did a really nice job of expanding on the Greek Tragedy aspect that Simon brings up in regard to Omar Little.
If you enjoyed the show, or even if you haven't seen it and wonder where all the hype comes from, or even if you don't care about The Wire or TV at all but are interested in the art of writing and story telling you need to read this interview. Simon's take on how The Wire is different and what it takes to tell a story the right way are fascinating.
My favorite bit made it into the pull quote to lead off the piece...
My standard for verisimilitude is simple and I came to it when I started to write prose narrative: fuck the average reader. I was always told to write for the average reader in my newspaper life. The average reader, as they meant it, was some suburban white subscriber with two-point-whatever kids and three-point-whatever cars and a dog and a cat and lawn furniture. He knows nothing and he needs everything explained to him right away, so that exposition becomes this incredible, story-killing burden. Fuck him. Fuck him to hell.Which also led to an exposition on Simon's shows as travelouges and the issues that smart people have with most TV.
Just go read the whole thing already!