The Wire and the Absurd

I'm not trying to make all of these about absurdism, but indulge me just one more time for now: 

Estragon, sitting on a low mound, is trying to take off his boot. He pulls at it with both hands, panting. He gives up, exhausted, rests, tries again. As before.

Enter Vladimir.

ESTRAGON (giving up again) Nothing to be done.

VLADIMIR (advancing with short, stiff strides, legs wide apart) I'm beginning to come round to that opinion. All my life I've tried to put it from me, saying Vladimir, be reasonable, you haven't yet tried everything. And I resumed the struggle. (He broods, musing on the struggle.)

In one of the most famous scenes of one of the most essential absurdist texts, one of its characters says, “Nothing to be done," about trying to and failing at taking off a boot that's too tight on his foot.

In the final episode of one of the greatest TV shows about one of the most broken cities in America, one of its character says, “There’s nothing to be done,” about trying to and failing at reducing the drugs that are too prevalent in his district.

Not just any character though, but the character who has taken two of the show's largest gambles in his attempts to save his city (with the possible exception of McNulty and his “serial killer”), only to see it collapse in the end because of the same political corruption and incompetency that has already ruined so much of the city.

To have created Hamsterdam as an unofficial drug-sanctioned area with the intention of pleasing his stats-minded superiors while recognizing from the beginning that it would ultimately be shut down by those same stats-minded superiors, Bunny knowingly took on a futile task. And then post-Hamsterdam, to have assisted with a special education program that would eventually be disbanded as soon as standardized testing reared its ugly standardized heads, he did it all again.

In other words, Bunny’s efforts are a little bit Sisyphean.

But then, the fact that David Simon and his team even include this direct reference to Waiting for Godot (in the finale of all places) seems to emphasize the entire series’ connection to the play and absurdism as a whole. Time and time again, we’ve watched as characters such as McNulty, Stringer, and even Prez, have attempted to change their respective institutions ranging from the police force, the drug trade, and the classroom, only for their attempts to end in failure. Thus, in doing so over the course of its five seasons, the show has gradually cemented the idea that whatever these people try to do to change “the game,” the game will never change.

Because as much as Sisyphus tries to push the boulder up the hill for the last time every day, he knows it’ll just roll back down in the night.

So can you blame Bunny for following Beckett’s example and “musing on the struggle?”

At least he saved Namond.

Also, RIP Omar and everybody else who has lost the struggle.


Tanner CiprianoComment