Originally uploaded at SSRN.


I have a confession: I have only watched Season 1 of The Wire, and it has been many years since I did that. Thus, both my knowledge and pedagogical use of the show are limited. What explanation can I offer for my failings? I am a Maryland native with family who resides in Baltimore City, or Charm City as it is affectionately called. I worked for several years as an assistant federal public defender in Baltimore City. Over time, I have seen the city evolve, and I have seen it chew up and spit out many good people and some not so good people. So, in the past, I told students who asked whether I had ever seen The Wire: “Why should I watch a fictional version of what I (painfully) experienced as reality?” Although it took many years after the series ended, I did eventually break down and watch Season 1. In doing so, I discovered that the show is an ideal source for exploration of issues arising in three courses I teach. To date, I have used portions of Season 1 as platforms for assessing students’ comprehension of the materials in these courses.