Nobody warns you, do they? No one. Oh, sure, they’ll happily bang on about how it’s the greatest story ever told; how it’ll change your life forever. And they’re right. But where are the warnings? They’ll wax lyrical about the writing: Its bravery in crediting the viewer with something called an ‘attention span’ (a rarity these days); how you’ll fall in love with good and bad alike; how just three short episodes in you’ll find yourself praying to god there’s nothing else on TV so you can reach for the box-set you borrowed off your brother and squeeze in back-to-back episodes before bed; the obsession, the obsession, the obsession; the obsession that inevitably turns to hack-your-own-arm-off-for-just-a-little-bit-more full-blown addiction. They’ll tell you about that.
So you watch it and sure enough, every word you heard is true. And then some. Dear God and Christ Almighty, it’s good. Oh Lord, oh sweet baby Jesus, it’s the quintessence of brilliance; phenomenal in every way, and better even than the hype had implied.
And then...it’s gone.
And you wake up the next morning, look to the skies, and you swear on your life that the world has lost a colour.
I’ve always been a late developer. For instance, while the rest of my classmates were parading round the changing room adorned with the kind of body hair a silverback could be proud of, I spent most of the 80’s showering with my pants on and silently praying for Santa to bring me my first pube. Even now, as i race toward middle age and all the soul-crushing loss of vitality that brings, i’m still not entirely convinced my voice has broken yet. Why do you need to know this? Well it’s the hardly-important light and shade that goes some way to explaining why Johnny No-pubes here has only just finished watching The Wire. Last night, in fact. Which leads me to my next question:
What the hell do i do now? (That’s not rhetorical, by the way, i genuinely need answers.)
And think before you speak, for i’ve actually heard people - people i not necessarily respected, but certainly didn’t hold in complete contempt beforehand - suggesting i start watching House, as though the two are somehow on a par. House taking the stage after The Wire?! That’s not ‘after the lord mayor’s show’; that’s me and my bonsai tribute to adult male genitalia dating Ron Jeremy’s recently jilted ex-girlfriend. Hiding to nothing doesn’t do it justice. And, frankly, i’d be better off watching The Bill for all the good Hugh Laurie’s rubbery yank accent and some blatantly rehashed Quincy plots would do me.
I guess i could, can, and damn well will watch it all again from start to finish. Appreciate the lightness of touch i’d missed on first viewing. But it’s never the same second time round.
Talking helps. I suppose. There is, after all, comfort to be found speaking in tongues with fellow disciples: Gabbling frantically about McNulty’s perpetual bedhead, pointing in awe at Lester Freamon’s yawning gait (even with his ankles together, i’m still quietly confident i could fit a fully-inflated beach ball through there without it even brushing the 3-ply twill of his Farah slacks), and swearing on all five series that Prop Joe’s impersonation of the guy from PM Dawn is the best we’ve ever seen.
It’s all just talk though. Talking, talking, talking for the sake of it, and words mean nothing now. So life must go on, and i’ll try to be strong. But to anyone out there with episodes left to watch - enjoy it while it lasts. Because when it’s over, I kid you not, you’ll feel like your soul’s just been shot in the arse.
Let that be a warning. Yo.