<i>The Wire</i> and the Disenchantment of the Outsider

  • Mikkel Jensen Aalborg University
Keywords: The Wire, outsiders, David Simon, television serials


This article is a contextualist reading of the television serial The Wire (2002-2008). Drawing on Grace Hale’s A Nation of Outsiders (2011), this article examines the tension between how the paratexts of The Wire embrace an outsider rhetoric while the serial itself tries to dero-manticize the trope of the outsider. The article argues that the producers of the serial embrace an outsider rhetoric in an effort to gain legitimacy for themselves which is at odds with how the serial debunks the charisma of the outsider. This deromanticization of the outsider is an important part of the serial’s politics as this is a part of The Wire’s “sociological gaze.” The Wire is shown not to accept the notion of a free space beyond the restrictions of contemporary society that the romance of the outsider depends on.

Author Biography

Mikkel Jensen, Aalborg University
Mikkel Jensen holds an MA in English and History and teaches at the Department of Culture and Global Studies at Aalborg University, Denmark. He recently finished his PhD dissertation on David Simon’s television series: The Corner, The Wire, Treme, Show Me a Hero, and The Deuce. Before his employment at Aalborg University, Jensen worked as an upper-secondary school teacher. His articles have appeared in Academic Quarter, Culture Unbound, The European Journal of American Studies, The Explicator, The Irish Journal of American Studies, and Series – International Journal of Television Serial Narratives. He can be reached at mjensen@cgs.aau.dk.