The object of study is the magnificent television series The Wire, broadcast by HBO between 2002 and 2008, which deals with the resounding failure of the American experiment in the marginal city of Baltimore. However, in a series that reflects drug trafficking, politics, education, communication and, finally, Western society with its virtues and defects, and which, therefore, is full of moments of great tension, brilliance and drama, one of the plans most remembered by those who have seen it does not have any of this. The focus will be on the character analysis of Roland Pryzbylewski.
Baltimore is the most populous city in the state of Maryland, but by no means the most important. There is also Annapolis, smaller but administrative capital of the state and seat of territorial governments. And there is also Washington DC (although administratively it does not belong to the state because it is a federal district), known by all as the capital of the United States (Peter &John 333). Washington and Annapolis are two of the richest cities in North America: per capita income is very high, and they live in many of the most important political and administrative personalities in the United States and, therefore, the world.
Baltimore is the American city with the highest rate of poverty, marginalization, and delinquency. There are more than three hundred murders a year, and its mortality rate for homicide is comparable to that of many cities in the third world. The contrast between this battered city and its two rich neighbors is bleeding, and in the series itself Washington is mentioned as a kind of untouchable paradise that seems to belong to another planet, and Annapolis as the city that should care about Baltimore but that, instead, ignores it, keeping its inhabitants abandoned, plunged into misery and oblivion (Peter & John 325). In the state of Maryland, Baltimore is like a deviant older sister who has no job or university degree, while her two little sisters, triumphant and posh, do their best to pretend that they do not know her at all.
Moreover, the rest of the country has tried to ignore the existence of Baltimore almost always. From the USA they have always shown us crime and marginalization in Los Angeles or New York, but the former can boast of Hollywood and its rock musicians, and the latter of Wall Street and its incessant cultural life or tourist charm. Baltimore has nothing eye-catching to offer to the world except its decay (Peter & John 333). There is not even an industrial or sports tradition like that of Detroit. You had to put it under the carpet because it shows the worst face of that nation. It is the city where everyone loses, and nobody wins, where there are no movie stars or stockbrokers who make up so much misery. The Wire, throughout its five years, reviews many other aspects of Baltimore society.
The Wire is first and foremost a series of characters. The presence of cliffhangers is anecdotal, and it is the characters who end up hooking us, it is their destiny that, as spectators, concerns us the most. The treatment that The Wire makes of its characters is very particular. Some appear only in one or two seasons. Others are present throughout the series, but sometimes they act as protagonists while at other times they are simple secondary and hardly give signs of life. There are those who are villains in one season and heroes in another, or who are presented under certain colors to later appear under a different and unexpected perspective (although always consistent). Neither the events nor the characters of The Wire correspond to what the viewers are accustomed to seeing in a television series. The plot is based on a narrative fabric of enormous plot complexity, with multiple secondary stories closely interwoven with each other, often with many chapters of distance between them (Brian 83). The number, variety, and richness of scenarios, situations, and characters in the series goes far beyond what the viewer is accustomed to assimilating, which demands an attention effort much higher than usual (the interactivity and remote control functions that it provides)
"Prez" Presbylewski is a curious character. He is one of the most unfriendly or at least the most uncomfortable in the first season, but also one of the most endearing as the series progresses. In the first season, we see him practicing a police service for which he does not serve; his insecurities and frustrations make him the kind of agent of the law that over the years could end up becoming the worst of the criminals. But when he abandons his police work and begins a life of professor more in keeping with his qualities, we will see his virtues emerge as we had previously seen his defects emerge (Brian 85). It is a perfectly shaped transformation that is not anything artificial, just the opposite. Its evolution turns out to be wholly natural and exemplifies how there are individuals that society does not take advantage of because they have them performing wrong functions.
Roland "Prez" Pryzbylewski is also portrayed as a vulnerable, clumsy and endearing, with a peaceful character punctuated by sudden outbursts of bad temper for example the slap he gives to a capital of the Baltimore police, which is, even more, his father-in-law, is a human type that achieves viewer an irrepressible sympathy. After leaving the police because of successive incidents, he acts as a teacher in a class of boys from areas ravaged by drug trafficking and stars with them some of the most emotional episodes of the entire series. The last scene in which he appears, he contemplates how one of his most beloved students begins to embark on the path of no return of drug addiction. This puts a lump in his throat.
In the fourth season, Mr. Pryzbylewski, who for a series of circumstances temporarily leaves the police force to practice as a teacher in a Secondary school, is given more focus. The series gives another Copernican turn and takes on a lugubrious and sentimental tone. It focuses on the day to day of a public school in the worst part of the city, in whose classrooms we see how a group of ghetto children try to overcome the difficulties of their disheartening social environment, while their teachers try to rescue them from the abyss and redirect them towards a decent future (Brian 90).
In the fourth series, tragedy commands more than in any of the previous seasons. There is no kind sentimentalism: what is shown to us is increasingly hard, cruel and shocking. Simon puts a lump in our throat with the story of these kids who are at a critical point in their lives. They have to choose between focusing on studies to become adults with a moderately dignified life, which is not easy in their circumstances, or the temptation to earn easy money trafficking in the corners, even knowing that by that way they will most likely end up dead or in jail (Brian 89). It is difficult to describe in words the emotional intensity that reaches the series during this fourth season, especially towards the final part, which becomes so overwhelming that, with the passing of the episodes, even the most hardened viewer should have a box of Kleenex at your fingertips. The true merit of the series lies in its realism, in the harshest vision of what Education means in the most disadvantaged neighborhoods. No one would have said that the first time we see his face, that Prez would end up being, over the years, a man more than respected who would earn a mention over other colleagues who perhaps promised more. But that's life, and that's The Wire.
The story of Prez is a story of growth, as a professional, but above all as a person. The evolution from the beginning in which he is nothing but a nuisance that must support the newly trained Unit of Major Crimes, imposed due to the influence of his father-in-law, until his gradual consolidation as one of the best researchers in Baltimore. It is a great story about the discovery of the vocation, on the passion for work and finally, on recycling and maturity. That and much more is the story of Mr. Prez.
At first, we view Perez as a lost man. Lost and dragged against his will to a dusty basement where pariahs of the department meet to start an investigation that nobody expects anything; repeatedly coping with his superior, Cedric Daniels, due to his lack of discipline and his scant respect for firearms. However, the person who will change the life of Prez is Lester Fremont. From him he learns what real police work is, the process of collecting evidence, waiting, and holding on to the smallest detail (Peter & John 339). He begins to devote himself body and soul to this invisible, cumbersome work, in which he moves like a fish in water. To contemplate him is a delight because we see a realized man. They start to value him for what he is, a great cop, only not the kind of policeman that everyone (even him) had believed until then.
A large part of the Unit's successes during the first years bear its stamp. His wit and quiet intelligence in the service of the law seem to have fulfilled all his expectations, but an unfortunate accident, again with which he has always been his archenemy, the firearms, plunges him into an absurd spiral of unfounded accusations (Brian 84). Neither his father-in-law nor his boss, Daniels (who now does not defend him by obligation, much less) can do nothing. Prez must abandon his vocation.
And without knowing it, he has just taken the decisive step in his life and his career. He does not know it yet when he is planted in the deserted classroom, on his first day as an assistant teacher, but he will soon find out. Well, he is about to stop pursuing delinquents to stand in front of the kids who will populate the corners in a few years, and try to help them find a better future. In school, the good guy from Prez begins to understand, at last, how Baltimore works, just as we glimpse the birth of gangs, of violence, of the street hierarchies that have their reflection between these four walls (Peter & John 338). Everyone had an opportunity, and they missed it. Prez realizes how helpless he is and cannot save the students or the drug situation. He realizes how blind many law enforcement officers are. And so, with his more or less conventional methods of teaching Prez is going to become a respected teacher who can be left alone. The series manages to capture in detail the difficulty involved in teaching and educating and how the teaching-learning process is fraught with obstacles and difficulties.
When dealing with the character of Prez in The Wire it is inevitable to bring up the concept of realism, because, in fact, it is a series that not only wants to show reality in its many different facets, tones, and reflections, but also interpret it in a very unpleasant sense and in general from a very critical perspective. The Wire shows a broad panorama of the social, economic, cultural, racial and political conflicts of contemporary societies (Brian 86). It shows the damages caused by drug trafficking and organized crime, but also by the methods that the authorities use when fighting against them, the connections and prolongations of the criminal plots with the borders of power, the situation of the homeless, the mechanisms of corruption, political patronage and the purchase of votes, the thousand and one turmoil in the management of public affairs, the illegal financing of parties and unions, the manipulation of citizenship and public opinion by power and the media, police abuses, the difficulties of educational system to bring forward boys and girls who live in degraded environments, hostile to any discipline and promise of a better future.
The Wire is divided into two worlds: that of the ghetto, governed by crime and drug trafficking, and that of "normal" citizens, where eac...
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