We have at last started to watch the American TV series, The Wire. Wow! Although the series won no major awards it is easy to see why many critics consider it one of the greatest series made. Already in the dense first episode the viewer is flung headlong into a gritty and all-too-believable depiction of West Baltimore’s dystopian urban sprawl. The series’ primary author, David Simon, said that he wanted to show what institutions did to individuals. In the first series there are two such institutions: the illegal drugs trade, on the one hand (and particularly that part of it dominated by the fictional Barksdale family), and the Baltimore police department on the other. The realism extends to dialect and slang, which sometimes renders the dialogue almost impenetrable – at least, on a first viewing. But it doesn’t really matter, for the sense of the characters and the relationships is perfectly conveyed and we can already see that D’Angelo “D” Barksdale has problems with his conscience – surely never a good thing for a villain.