by Larry Brody
Until last night, the best TV show I’d ever hated was THE WIRE.
Don’t get me wrong, the series, which originally ran June 2, 2002 to March 9, 2008 and now is streaming on Hulu, is a creative wonder. Gritty scripts, acting that makes the Italian neo-realist actors look like amateurs,wonderful music…oh hell, wonderful everything.
But it’s all too wonderful for me. Too realistic. Too gritty. After seeing the first three episodes I found myself unable to shake the feeling of living in THE WIRE’s universe.
Especially at night, when all my dreams were set in said universe. For about a week after viewing each episode I was a character named Larry, busily interacting with the characters in the show as soon as I feel asleep.
And the interactions all involved misery and desperation and the frantic need to escape from Baltimore and mainline my way into a warmer, friendlier place that didn’t exist because, hey, this was THE WIRE.
Last night, however, I found another competitor for the title of Best Series With the Worst Effect on Poor, Sensitive LB.
It’s called HALT AND CATCH FIRE and is now streaming on Netflix after airing on AMC from June 1, 2014, to October 14, 2017.
Four years. Forty episodes, of another perfectly written, directed, cast, and produced series so intense that every moment was not only perfectly crafted but also totally horrific in its depiction of how greedy, thoughtless, and evil to each other human beings can be.
I streamed three episodes, back to back to back, admiring everything I saw and heard, then went to sleep…and relived everything I’d so admired, experiencing each soul-crushing moment as the same poor shmo Larry who couldn’t bear another second in THE WIRE, and who, as he did in his/my THE WIRE dreams, was absolutely terrified that he was just as bad a person as those in the HACF Universe.
Holy crap! Could I really be that unlikeable? Could any assemblage of humans?
I woke up gasping for air and searching for an asthma rescue remedy sprayer that I don’t have and and haven’t needed since – yeah, you guessed it, my three weeks of THE WIRE hell.
Right now, you’re probably asking yourself, “WTF?”
Or else you’re asking me, “WTF, LB?”
I could answer that, but not now. Not while both THE WIRE and HACF are so fresh and so freshly depressing in my brain. I figure it’ll take a few years at the least for me to be ready, willing, and able to think about why these shows so disgust me while filling me with admiration.
At this moment, all I can say is, “Don’t just sit there, run! Run away as fast as you can!” Because I truly believe that the only people who deserve to spend their time watching these two strange masterpieces of film/video storytelling are people who’ve already given up on the concepts of hope, justice, ethics, and beauty and therefore won’t be bothered by not finding even the tiniest little sign of their existence here.