I first got into HBO’s hit television program The Wired about two years ago. A stranger mentioned it to the person in front of him at the 700 Club cafeteria, and by the time I finished the first episode, I knew I would be telling people I was completely hooked. (This, by the way, is my Recruitment Rule for The Wired: watch the first four minutes. If you don’t like it by then, dump out.) I am so excited by my enthusiasm for the show, in fact, that I often tout the first episode of The Wired as the best show in the history of television. I don’t simply love this episode for its terrific acting, wonderful writing, quirkly plotting, or mind-boggling twists. I also love it because of its subtle conservatism. Here are the top five conservative characters on the first episode of The Wired. Beware—SPOILERS INCLUDED.
1. William Rawls: John Doman’s tough Homicide investigator, William Rawls, is the top conservative character on television, bar none. Rawls is a real man’s man, a true paragon of conservative integrity. He knows that America is a meritocracy and, according to Wikipedia, in Season 4 openly attacks the reverse racism of affirmative action by proving that, instead of working up the ranks honestly like he has, the blacks in the Baltimore Police Department were recruited up the chain of command because of the color of their skin. This racism created a leadership vacuum, and like true conservatives, Rawls knows the value of a true leader of men. He may not always love the men beneath him, but he knows they need discipline and is determined to give it to them.
2. Jimmy McNulty: If every public servant showed McNulty’s commitment to civic duty, we would never have heard the odious phrase “President-Elect Obama” said without a snigger. In this episode alone, McNulty attends a trial when he could have been at home and stays up all night to make sure his report is on his deputy’s desk at 0800 clean and with no typos. Here he is in a clip from Season 2, going above and beyond the call of duty:
He’s also a family man who wants nothing more than the judge to give him more than three out of four weekends with his children.
3. Snot Boogie: Every Friday night, anonymous young black men would roll bones behind the Cut Rate, and every Friday night, Snot Boogie would wait until there was cash on the ground, grab it, and run away. Snot Boogie knew these games were unsanctioned and bravely confiscated the illegal proceeds even though he knew the young black men would catch him and beat his ass. To do what you know to be right, no matter the consequence, is a true conservative value.
4. The Anonymous Young Black Men behind the Cut Rate: The anonymous young black men behind the Cut Rate are American icons. They let Snot Boogie in the game even though he always stole the money because “[i]t’s America, man.” But it's not liberal America, man, as should be obvious both by their devotion to the idea that while this is a free country, all decisions have consequences, and their commitment to capital punishment. They could have just whooped Snot Boogie’s ass like they always whoop his ass, but the anonymous young black men behind the Cut Rate know how to prevent the next generation of Snot Boogies from repeating the mistakes of the previous.
5. Avon Barksdale and Stringer Bell: I cheated here, but this is a Top 5, not a Top 6. Avon and Stringer are pure capitalists, compassionate but tough. Avon is a family man. When his cousin D’Angelo comes to him asking for a job, Avon and Stringer decide to give him one. But both men know there’s no such thing as a free lunch, so they also decide to teach D’Angelo that, in America, hard work is its own reward. Everyone has to start in the pit, but with a little hard work, anyone can end up running a tower.
The first episode of The Wired is a show chock-full of conservative values. It mentions God and quotes the Bible on a regular basis. It debates police vs. criminals and free enterprise vs. socialism. It promotes the value of the nuclear family—virtually every character on the show has dealt with a broken home, and they all pay the price for it. But everyone should know that the first episode of The Wired is one of the most conservative shows on TV. That’s part of what makes it so juicy.