García Martínez, Alberto Nahum. ""New Landscapes of the Noir: The Urban Jungle in <The Wire> and <The Shield>"". SLIDESHARE from the paper presented at ""Contemporary Serial Culture, Quality TV Series in a New Media Environment"", Potsdam-Babelsberg (Germany), 14-16 January, 2010
"The Shield (FX 2002-08) and The Wire (HBO 2002-08) are two of the most critically acclaimed TV-shows ever produced and both share a kinship with certain film noir products. The Wire transcends the cop-show genre by offering a multilayered portrait of the city of Baltimore: from police work to drug dealing, from union corruption to problems of the school system and to unethical journalism practices. On the other hand, The Shield takes the form of a fast-moving cop-show that displays much of the same the moral ambiguity that characterizes the noir genre.
Both series adopt complementary realist strategies (a neorealist aesthetic in The Wire; a cinéma-vérité pastiche in The Shield) that give particular narrative significance to city landscapes. Baltimore and Los Angeles are portrayed not only as a dangerous and ruined physical places, but these narratives also raise moral and political issues such as race, class, political corruption, social disintegration, economical disparities, the limitations of the justice system, and the failure of the American dream. The complex and expanded narrative of The Wire and The Shield, as Dimemberg has written about the film noir genre, “remains well attuned to the violently fragmented spaces and times of the late-modern world”.
Therefore, this paper will focus on how The Wire and The Shield reflect and re-examine several topics related to the city in the film noir tradition: the sociopolitical effects of revealing the scarred landscapes of the centripetal industrial metropolis, the implications of filming in actual localities, the dramatic presence of what Augé termed “no-places”, the bachelardian opposition between home and city, or the streets as an urban jungle where danger lurks at every corner."