Modern Love For The Wire

If ever a show deserved a paean, it’s The Wire. Throw in the challenges of an interracial marriage, a battle with cancer and a moving love story? This is what “Modern Love” is all about.

Natasha Sajé‘s’s essay deals with the struggles of interracial marriage, the tragedy of losing a partner to cancer, the realities of living in Baltimore – all seen through the lens of The Wire. Plenty of people love the show – many describe it as the best TV they’ve ever seen, life-changing, even. But to this couple, it’s a lot more than that – it becomes a cathartic means of dealing with their life’s struggles – and, more immediately, his dying – writ large on the small screen.

Sitting together on our couch in Salt Lake City during those months, Tyrone and I couldn’t help reveling in “The Wire.” There was so much that we recognized as true. Tyrone was black – born in Jamaica, raised in London. And I am white – born in Germany and raised mostly in New Jersey. As an interracial couple from such different backgrounds, we loved the show’s painfully accurate take on race and class.

The essay charts the the couple’s meeting, and her family’s prejudice, as well as the myriad indignities he and they suffer through on a daily basis. The Wire’s gritty setting reminds them of the time they spent living in Baltimore, and the show’s realism, funnily enough, becomes an escape from the reality of Tyrone’s death.

Every morning and every night – up until the last 36 hours, when he couldn’t speak – Tyrone would say to me: “Another day. I’m glad to see it.” We celebrated his ability to read the newspaper, to eat the flan I made, to sit with me in the den and watch yet another episode of The Wire.

There’s a lot going on in the essay, and the story’s a specific and personal one. if there’s a thesis, maybe it’s this:

I once read an article about interracial marriage that told me what I already knew: interracial couples are more likely to stay together. After you’ve faced the wrath of family, the stares, the cold shoulders, the stupid comments, you create a bond and other people become irrelevant.

But, without trivializing this, the essay’s also an eloquent testament to the power of entertainment. The Wire, as the author points out, addresses issues of race and class and flat-out humanity with unprecedented honesty. That the show can move and support people at this basic a level is more than mere escapism, it’s art in the true sense. And it’s encouraging and moving; this is the point. The culture still has good things in it and the capacity to make amazing work out of pain. Can more people take the example and run with it, and see that people can handle intelligence and depth? If it did nothing else, this essay should show that they can. And the point of this feature, at its best.

Down To ‘The Wire’ [NY Times]

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