In 2002, HBO premiered The Wire, and for five fantastic seasons, the show created a detailed and fascinating picture of the city of Baltimore. The show basically did a deep study on the different systems that make the city run, from the police to the educational system, and even the journalists who deliver the news to the citizens every single day. The Wire never managed to win many awards, but audiences, critics, and time itself cemented the show as maybe the best one HBO has ever produced.
David Simon, The Wire’s creator, has since then created many other shows that follow the same vibe as The Wire; Show Me A Hero, The Deuce, and Treme are just some of them. All of them have a sense of reality that no other type of show is able to deliver on television. Each new show he creates ends up being not only entertaining but also quite educational, a form of criticism on actual real-life topics without having to pass them through a fictional lens.
Now David Simon and his team come back to the city of Baltimore with a new story to tell, one based more closely on real life than any other. We Own This City tells the story of the Gun Trace Task Force, a special unit inside the Baltimore Police Department that was the prime example of police corruption not only in the city but in the whole country. The show follows the unit and its members, throughout the years and shows their different crimes as well as the investigation into them developing in the background by a group of internal affairs investigators.
We Own This City is a miniseries of only six episodes, each lasting around an hour. This might seem small compared to some other shows. However, the time has come for this show to make a compelling case for how corruption in the Baltimore police force is so ingrained in the department’s blood and soul that it may be impossible to change it for the better.
To make this story come across to the viewer, the show uses several points of view; from the criminal policemen behaving exactly like gangsters to the naive attorney trying to make a change in a place where there can’t be any. Many points of view collide in a narrative that moves through different timelines, places, and protagonists.
In the first episode, this structure might feel a bit convoluted, but as the show moves forward, you can begin to assemble the pieces yourself. It makes for a more active kind of viewership, and it can be really entertaining for those audiences who love to connect the dots.
As it is usual for these shows, the writing, and the acting are just top-notch. The combination of these two makes for some incredibly layered and complex characters. The dialogue propels the plot and also achieves exposition in the most natural of ways. Sometimes you can even forget that you are watching actors reciting a script, and instead you might feel like you are watching real people live their lives.
There are some really amazing conversations in this show. You might think that the subject is not for you but the atmosphere is able to capture even the most dubious of watchers in its spell.
The cast is superb. Simon has always brought his A-game when it comes to his actors. Here in We Own The City, the cast is composed of both veterans from the David Simon Universe of shows and new faces that brings that new blood that makes the show feel current and validates it as something that is worth watching in today’s TV landscape.
Jon Bernthal is the face of this miniseries. It can be said that he’s the main character of the show, and it wouldn’t be a lie. The actor delivers a tour de force performance that will definitely attract the attention of many when it comes to award season. By the end of the series, you will have the full context of both the criminals and the city landscape. There might not be another city in modern fiction that has received such a wonderful study as Baltimore itself.
The rest of the cast is just as good. You really feel like they are real people being shot by a camera. Jaime Hector, for example, keeps proving to be one of the most underrated actors in recent memory and delivers a performance that is the complete opposite of who he was in The Wire. Wunmi Mosaku also stands out. The actress has been delivering top performances in TV and movies for the last couple of years, and she is absolutely a talent worth following.
All six episodes are directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green, who recently directed the Oscar-nominated King Richard. Green does a stunning job of imitating what makes The Wire such a unique show. This type of direction is not showy at all. It is barely noticeable, actually, and it feels more like the point of view of an unrelated force that doesn’t want to take part in the happenings in front of it. It is completely impartial. This approach makes each moment feel more substantial and important in the overall picture.
We Own This City is another triumph in David Simon’s folder, and the show can already be considered one of the best in 2022. Let’s hope that Simon and his team can keep delivering these breathtaking and unique drama shows that are like nothing else on TV right now or ever.