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The Wire depicts an American urban dystopia, framed in our time, in which easy distinctions between good and evil and crime and punishment are challenged at every turn. In five successive seasons, the series depicts a Baltimore in which institutional prerogatives, economic inequalities and a brutalizing drug war confound the efforts to advance the city and its people. The series' first season lays out the futility of the drug war, while the second highlights the deindustrialization and the death of the working class. The third season introduces the city's political culture and lays out the forces that stand in the path of actual reform. The fourth season addresses the educational system and the actual opportunities that remain to coming generations. The fifth and final season examines the media culture and its role in perpetuating the status quo. Amid all of this, carefully drawn characters on both sides of the law and from a variety of Baltimore cultures move forward as best they can, human to a flaw, struggling against a system that seems weighted against civic progress.