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‘The Wire’ Creators Think HBO Wouldn’t Make The Show Today Because It’s Not ‘Game Of Thrones’

The Wire, one of the greatest TV series of all-time, premiered 20 years ago this week. In honor of two decades of “Omar coming” (RIP), chess lessons, and deez nuts, creators David Simon and Ed Burns spoke to the New York Times about the show’s legacy, and whether HBO would still make it today, in a post-Game of Thrones landscape.

“No, definitely not. HBO was going up the ladder at the time,” Burns said. “They didn’t understand The Wire until the fourth season. In fact, they were thinking about canceling it after three. We caught that moment where networks were thinking, ‘Oh, we need a show for this group of people.’ But now, it’s got to be Game of Thrones.”

He continued, “It’s got to be big. It’s got to be disconnected from stepping on anybody’s toes. I’ve watched a couple of the limited series on HBO, and they’re good shows, but they’re not cutting new paths. They are whodunits or these rich women bickering among themselves in a town.” Burns said he doesn’t hear anyone saying, “Hey, that’s a really great show” on HBO, which is not fair to The Righteous Gemstones, Barry, and Succession, three great shows. (I would add HBO Max’s Hacks in there, too.)

An argument could be made that HBO would still greenlight The Wire in 2022, but — and here’s the big difference between then and now — it wouldn’t have run for five seasons. Enlightened was also little-watched critical hit for HBO, but it only lasted for two seasons. Imagine if The Wire had ended after season two with Ziggy and his duck.

The Wire would have a very different legacy.

(Via the New York Times)