The Wire and Porgy and Bess

As a new faculty member at Shimer, I get to audit one course this semester, which in my case is “Humanities 1: Art and Music” (basically Intro to Fine Arts). One of the main focal points for the music half of the class is Porgy and Bess, and watching it this weekend, I thought of a potential connection between the Gershwins’ opera and The Wire.

The very first scene of the first episode of The Wire has McNulty investigating a murder that resulted from a dice game gone bad. The first scene of Porgy and Bess features a craps game that ends with a murder. While Wikipedia informs me that the incident from The Wire is based on a real story David Simon came across in his reporting, it seems to me this can’t be a coincidence — by starting with a scene parallel to Porgy and Bess, Simon was most likely indicating his awareness of the challenges of creating a work of art focused on the black experience, as a white man.

(I am posting this in part because I know many of our readers are interested in The Wire, but mostly because preliminary internet research suggests I may have the chance to be the first person to publicly draw this connection.)

5 thoughts on “The Wire and Porgy and Bess

  1. If this were an exegetical paper, in lieu of showing that it was intentional, you could show how the target audience of The Wire could be expected to hear the resonance of Porgy and Bess…

    In related news, have I mentioned that Paradise Lost is about Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell (Satan) and his rise and fall against the monarchy? :)

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