The always witty Alex Pappademas of Grantland, whose editor-in-chief asked President Obama his favorite character from “The Wire”, has now transformed the college basketball March Madness bracket system into a contest to determine exactly WHO is the greatest from The Wire.
Over the course of five seasons, The Wire populated its fictionalized Baltimore with more indelible, vibrantly flawed characters than any TV metropolis this side of Springfield (which also had its share of cynical cops, dirty politicians, and lovable substance-abusers). And yet, even in that context, it’s hard to argue that Omar Little – the proudly gay, profanity-averse, Honey Nut Cheerios-loving trap house stickup man played by Michael K. Williams – doesn’t still stand alone, like the cheese (Word to Cheese). If The Wire were the X-Men, Omar would be Wolverine; if The Wire were M.O.P.’s recorded output, he’d be “Ante Up (Robbin Hoodz Theory).” To paraphrase the President, if you were to rank the show’s characters in a March Madness-style bracket, “He’s got to be the no. 1 seed.”
This gave the Grantland writers an idea. What if they actually did subject the key players of the Wire-verse to rigorous bracketological inquiry? If we played corner boys against dock workers, murder-polices against hoppers, and craven politicos against enigmatic not-actually-Greek human traffickers, in matchups as arbitrary and occasionally unjust as life and death on the mean streets of West Baltimore, would the king stay the king?
This week, Grantland plans to find out. And likely going to make David Simon mad, again.
Behold: Grantland’s first-ever TV bracket. Thirty-two characters. Six days. Grantland let Fox Sports columnist Jason Whitlock vote, because that dude likes “The Wire” more than Simon likes wearing a Kangol to keep his head from exploding when he thinks about U.S. drug-control policy. And Grantland is letting the President play, too, because this is America, man.
In the words of Stringer Bell, “Get on with it, motherfucker.”