The Wire and the Serial Procedural: An Essay in Progress
Update: The book containing this essay, Third Person: Authoring and Exploring Vast Narratives, is out and quite excellent! Buy it now! Also, the final version of the essay is online at Electronic Book Review, along with a “riposte” from Caroline Levine.
I have been invited to contribute an essay about the fabulous HBO show The Wire for the forthcoming anthology Third Person, a book about “vast narratives” in the series edited by Noah Wardrip-Fruin and Pat Harrigan. The previous volumes are the aptly named and excellent First Person and Second Person, focusing on new media, games & narratives in a range of examples and frameworks. One of the nice things about this series is that they allow and encourage authors to workshop their essays online. So below the fold is a draft of my essay, about which I’d appreciate any comments or feedback.
A couple of clarifications – I don’t think you need to have seen the show (and certainly not the whole 4 seasons) to make sense of things, and I don’t think that The Wire operates in a plot-driven mode that can easily be “spoiled” by any revelations in this essay. Along those lines, my own caveat is that I have yet to see the show’s fourth season – I’ll be watching it soon & updating the essay, which hopefully won’t need major overhauling to account for the newest season. So please read, leave comments, and hopefully enjoy!
“All in the Game: The Wire, Serial Storytelling and Procedural Logic”
<1> The Wire is paradigmatic of a critical darling – few people watch it (at least in the numbers typical of commercial television), but it generates adoration and evangelism by nearly all who do. Television critics have taken it upon themselves to lobby their readers to give the show a chance, asking reluctant viewers to overlook its dark and cynical worldview to see the truth and beauty offered by its searing vision into the bleak heart of the American city. Thankfully for us scattered fans, HBO has allowed the show to continue for five seasons, even without a clear sense that the show’s dedicated fandom leads to overt profitability.
<2> What is most interesting to me about the critical praise deservedly lavished upon The Wire is not how it may or may not yield an increase in viewership, but how the critical consensus seems to situate the show distinctly within the frame of another medium. For many critics, bloggers, fans, and even creator David Simon himself, The Wire is best understood not as a television series, but as a “visual novel.” As a television scholar, this cross-media metaphor bristles – not because I don’t like novels, but because I love television. And I believe that television at its best shouldn’t be understood simply as emulating another older and more culturally valued medium. The Wire is a masterpiece of television, not a novel that happens to be televised, and thus should be understood, analyzed, and celebrated on its own medium’s terms.
<3> Yet thinking comparatively across media can be quite rewarding as a critical exercise, illuminating what makes a particular medium distinctive and how its norms and assumptions might be rethought. So before considering how the show operates televisually, what does thinking of The Wire as a novel teach us about the show? And might other cross-media metaphors yield other critical insights?
From the Literary to the Ludic
<4> The Wire’s novelistic qualities are most directly linked to its storytelling structure and ambitions. As Simon attests in frequent interviews and commentary tracks, he is looking to tell a large sweeping story that has traditionally been the purview of the novel, at least within the realm of culturally legitimate formats. He highlights how each season offers its own structural integrity, much like a specific book within a larger epic novel, and each episode stands as a distinct chapter in that book. The model, modestly left unspoken, might be War and Peace, a vast narrative containing fifteen “books,” each subdivided into at least a dozen chapters and released serially over five years.
<5> In The Wire, each season focuses on a particular facet of Baltimore and slowly builds into a cohesive whole. An episode typically does not follow the self-contained logic of most television programming, as storylines are introduced gradually and major characters might take weeks to appear. “Novelistic” is an apt term for describing this storytelling structure, as we rarely dive into a novel expecting the first chapter to typify the whole work as a television pilot is designed to do—Simon emphasizes how the show requires patience to allow stories to build and themes to accrue, a mode of engagement he suggests is more typical of reading than viewing. Enhancing the show’s novelistic claims is the presence of well-regarded crime fiction writers like George Pelecanos, Richard Price, and Dennis Lehane on the writing staff.
<6> This parallel to the novel brings with it not just an imagined structure and scope, but a host of assumed cultural values as well. While the novel’s history in the 18th and 19th centuries featured numerous contestations over the form’s aesthetic and cultural merits, by the time television emerged in the mid-20th century, the literary novel’s cultural role as among the most elite and privileged storytelling formats was firmly ensconced. As the most popular and culturally influential form of storytelling, television has usurped the role the early novel played as a lowbrow mass medium threatening to corrupt its readers and demean cultural standards.
<7> By asserting The Wire as a televised novel, Simon and critics are attempting to legitimize and validate the demeaned television medium by linking it to the highbrow cultural sphere of literature. The phrase “televised novel” functions as an oxymoron in its assumed cultural values, much like the term “soap opera” juxtaposes the extremities of art and commerce into a cultural contradiction. For The Wire, especially in its context of HBO’s slogan “It’s Not TV, It’s HBO,” the link to the novel rescues the show from the stigmas of its televised form, raising it above the commercialized swamp of ephemera imagined by many as typical television. But I would contend that emphasizing the literary facets of The Wire obscures many of its virtues and qualities, setting it up to fail when measured by the aesthetic aims of the novel.
<8> While any form as diverse as the novel cannot be firmly defined as dependent on any singular theme or formal quality, we can point to some key features common to many novels that The Wire seems not to share. Novels typically probe the interior lives of its characters, both through plots that center upon character growth and transformations, and through the scope of narration that accesses characters’ thoughts and beliefs. Even novels about a broad range of people and institutions often ground their vision of the world through the experiences of one or more central characters who transform through the narrative drive.
<9> Simon has suggested that The Wire is a show about the relationship between individuals and institutions, a claim that the program seems to uphold. But I would argue that the point of emphasis is much more clearly on institutions rather than individuals, as within each of the social systems that the show explores—the police, the drug trade, the shipyard, city government, the educational system—the institution is brought into focus through the lens of numerous characters. Certainly McNulty is a central point of access to understand police bureaucracy and functions nominally as the show’s main character, but by season four he is in the margins while characters like Daniels, Colvin, and Bunk provide alternate entry points to explore the police system. Likewise we experience the drug trade through a range of characters from D’Angelo to Stringer, Omar to Cutty. While all of these characters have depth and complexity, we rarely see much of their existence beyond how they fit into their institutional roles—even romantic relationships seem to foreground inter-institutional links between police, lawyers, and politicians more than interpersonal bonds deepening characters’ inner lives and motivations. The chronic alcoholism and infidelity of The Wire’s police officers offers a portrait less of flawed personalities than of a flawed institution—the police admire the systematic discipline and coordination of Barksdale’s crew, which is distinctly lacking in the Baltimore Police Department.
<10> This is not to suggest that characters in The Wire are flat or merely cardboard cutouts to enact a social simulation. One of the show’s most masterful features is its ability to create achingly human characters out of the tiniest moments and subtle gestures—Lester sanding doll furniture, D’Angelo picking out his clothes, Bubbles walking through “Hamsterdam” trying to find himself. But the way The Wire portrays its characters is distinctly not novelistic—we get no internal monologues or speeches articulating characters’ deep thoughts, no sense of deep character goals or transformations motivating the dramatic actions. Character depth is conveyed through the texture of everyday life on the job, a set of operating systems that ultimately work to dehumanize the characters at nearly every turn. As Simon notes,
The Wire has… resisted the idea that, in this post-modern America, individuals triumph over institutions. The institution is always bigger. It doesn’t tolerate that degree of individuality on any level for any length of time. These moments of epic characterization are inherently false. They’re all rooted in, like, old Westerns or something. Guy rides into town, cleans up the town, rides out of town. There’s no cleaning it up anymore. There’s no riding in, there’s no riding out. The town is what it is. (quoted in Mills)
In the show’s character logic, the institution is the defining element in a character’s life, externalized through practices, behaviors, and choices that deny individuality and agency, a storytelling structure that seems contrary to core principles of the literary novel.
<11> Thus the metaphoric postulation of The Wire as a televised novel might yield some structural insights and offers cultural reverberations, but also provides red herrings and dead ends to understanding the show’s narrational strategies and method of representing complex systems. Ultimately I contend that we should view The Wire using the lens of its actual medium of television to best understand and appreciate its achievements and importance. But there are significant insights to be gained through the logic of cross-media frameworks, viewing a text through the expectations and assumptions of another form to understand its particular cultural logic. Might other media metaphors be similarly useful, within limits, to help unravel The Wire? I would like to suggest that ultimately it might be useful to view the program using the lens a seemingly off-base medium, and thus offer a brief detour to answer an unlikely question—how might we conceive of The Wire as a videogame?
<12> Let me preemptively acknowledge one significant limitation here. Obviously watching The Wire is non-interactive, at least not in the explicit mode that Eric Zimmerman argues typifies games (158). But then again, watching a game like baseball is also non-interactive—despite my ritualized efforts to superstitiously trigger my team’s good fortune via carefully chosen clothing, gestures, and behaviors, ultimately I’ve failed to alter the outcome of any Red Sox game (at least as far as I know). In thinking about a filmed series like The Wire as a game, we need to think of the ludic elements within the show’s diegesis, not the interactive play that we expect when booting up a videogame. Thus The Wire might be thought of as a spectatorial game, being played on screen for the benefit of an audience.
<13> Games certainly play a more crucial role within The Wire’s storyworld than literature, as nearly every episode has at least one reference to “the game.” Within the show’s portrait of Baltimore, games are played in all venues—the corners, City Hall, the police station, the union hall—and by a range of players—street-level junkies looking to score, corrupt politicians filling campaign coffers, cops bucking for promotion, stevedores trying to maintain the docks. “The game” is the overarching metaphor for urban struggle, as everyone must play or get played—as Marla Daniels tries to warn her husband Cedric, “the game is rigged – you can’t lose if you don’t play” (episode 1.2). Sometimes characters are playing the same game, as the chase between the cops and Barksdale’s crew develops into a series of moves and counter-moves, but some institutions operate in a different game altogether—in season 1, the cops go to the FBI for help busting Barksdale’s drug and money-laundering system, but the feds are only playing the terrorism and political corruption game. Ultimately, Stringer Bell is brought down by trying to play two games at once, and gets caught when the rules of the drug game conflicts with the corporate game.
<14> David Simon has suggested that the show’s goal is to “portray systems and institutions and be honest with ourselves and viewers about how complex these problems are” (Zurawik). While Simon imagines that the televised novel is the form best suited to accomplish such goals, in today’s media environment, videogames are the go-to medium for portraying complex systems. As Janet Murray writes, “the more we see life in terms of systems, the more we need a system-modeling medium to represent it—and the less we can dismiss such organized rule systems as mere games” (quoted in Moulthrop 64). If novels foreground characterization and interiority in ways that The Wire seems to deny, videogames highlight the complexity of interrelated systems and institutions that are one of the show’s strengths.
<15> Many videogames are predicated on the logic of simulating complex systems, modeling an interrelated set of practices and protocols to explore how one choice ripples through an immersive world. We might imagine The Wire’s Baltimore as the televisual adaptation of the landmark game SimCity. In the first season, we walkthrough the police’s attempt to take-down Barksdale’s drug operation, concluding in a “checkmate” scene where Barksdale and Bell yield to the police’s final moves (1.12), but resulting in a stalemate that no players deem victorious—a few criminals get sentenced, but the Barksdale machine remains intact. Season three offers a replay with some changed variables and strategies for all sides—what if drugs are decriminalized? What if the drug trade goes legit through conglomeration rather than violent competition? What if a former soldier repents and tries to give back to his community? Given the show’s cynical vision of corrupt institutions, reform typically produces various forms of failure, as the parameters of the system are too locked-in to truly produce social change or allow for an imagined solution to systemic problems. Yet the ludic joy of the third season is the ability to replay the first season’s narrative through the imagination of new rules and ways to play the game.
<16> Ultimately the characters in The Wire, while quite human and multi-dimensional, are as narrowly defined in their possibilities as typical videogame avatars. They each do what they do because that is the way the game is played—Bubbles can’t get clean, McNulty can’t follow orders, Avon can’t stop fighting for his corners, Sobotka can’t let go of the glory days of the shipyard. The characters with agency to change, like Stringer Bell, D’Angelo Barksdale, or Bunny Colvin, find the systems too resistant, the “boss levels” too difficult, to overcome the status quo. The show offers a game that resists agency, a system impervious to change, yet the players keep playing because that is all they know how to do. The opening scene in the series shows McNulty interviewing a witness to a murder, killed after trying to rob a craps game; even though the victim tried to “snatch and run” every Friday night, the witness says that they had to let him play, because “it’s America, man” (1.1). The game must be played, no matter the cost. Throughout the series, the moments of greatest conflict are where a player steps over the line and breaks the unwritten rules of his institution—shooting Omar on Sunday morning, Carver leaking information about Daniels, Nick going beyond smuggling to enter the drug trade. In the show’s representation of Baltimore, the game is more than a metaphor—it is the social contract that barely holds the world together.
<17> If my account is correct that the videogame medium offers more insight into what makes The Wire an innovative and successful program than the novel, why wouldn’t Simon or other critics highlight this cross-media parallel as well? One answer is obvious—it helps legitimize the show by comparing it to the highbrow respectable literary form rather than the more derided and marginalized medium. And, of course, I do believe that Simon and his co-writers do conceive of their practices as fitting with their conceptions of what the novel can do, with “the game” serving as only a metaphor for the desolate lives of their characters and institutions. But through my own little game here, reading The Wire for the anthology Third Person through the analytic lens of its previous game studies iteration of First Person, we can see both the possibilities and limitations of analyzing a text through the framework of what it is not—ultimately, the best insights about the show can be found by looking at it for what it is: a masterful example of television storytelling.
The Serialized Procedural
<18> Placing The Wire in the context of television storytelling helps understand why Simon felt compelled to frame his series as atypical of television beyond the implied cultural hierarchies. Upon its debut in 2002, television was in the midst of a distinctive shift in its storytelling strategies and possibilities, exploring a mode of narrative complexity I have analyzed elsewhere (Mittell 2006). Simon’s previous work in television was primarily on the NBC series Homicide: Life on the Street that was based on his journalistic book; Homicide’s producers were constantly battling network requests to make plots more conclusive and uplifting, adding hopeful resolution to its bleak vision of urban murder. But in the decade between Homicide’s 1993 premiere and The Wire’s debut, many programs offered innovations in complex long-form television storytelling, including The X-Files, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The West Wing, Alias, 24, and most importantly for Simon’s own program, HBO’s critically acclaimed offerings of Oz, The Sopranos, and Six Feet Under. Thus while Simon frames his series primarily in novelistic terms in opposition to his frustrations working on Homicide, there were many key televised precedents for long-form gradual storytelling for him to draw upon.
<19> The Wire does, of course, draw upon a number of televisual traditions, mostly in its position within genre categories. The police drama is an obvious link, but an uncomfortable one—unlike nearly all cop shows, The Wire spends as much time on the criminals as the police, and as the seasons progress, other civic institutions take over the dramatic center. The show belongs more to a non-existent category of “urban drama,” documenting a city’s systemic decay; thematically, police dramas are nearly always about fighting the tide of decay, rather than contributing to its demise. In spirit if not execution, The Wire harkens back to the critically hailed but little seen social issue dramas of the early-1960s, like East Side/West Side and The Defenders, but given the new industrial framework of premium cable television, The Wire can survive as a bleak social statement without reaching a mass audience, a luxury its 1960s network counterparts could not afford.
<20> What the show does share directly with many cop show precedents is its focus on procedure. Dragnet pioneered the television cop show in the 1950s, inventing both the formal and cultural vocabulary of the police procedural. Although it reads as a mannered caricature today, in its day Dragnet represented the height of gripping authenticity, offering viewers a gritty noir view into the underbelly of Los Angeles and a celebration of the police who protect it. The show’s narrative scope focused on the functional machinery of the police world, presenting a form of “systemic realism” that sublimated character depth to institutional logic (Mittell 2004, 137). While Dragnet did distill the larger institution into the perspective of Detective Joe Friday and his assorted partners, creator/producer/star Jack Webb designed the show for Friday to be viewed as “just one little cog in a great enforcement machine” (quoted in Mittell 2004, 126), and played the character to generate a cog-like emotional engagement and redirect focus on the minute details of police procedures. The legacy of Dragnet’s procedural tone lives on in the long-running Law & Order and C.S.I. franchises, each of which offer just enough emotional investment in their institutional workers to engage viewers, but ultimately hook them with twisty mysteries each week to be solved by effective forensic detection or prosecution.
<21> The Wire manages to produce both emotional investment in its characters and a detailed eye for procedures. The opening credits of each season typify the show’s focus—characters are obscured and abstracted into close-ups of body parts, machinery, and icons of city life. What matters in the credits, and arguably the series as a whole, is less who is doing the actions, but more the practices of institutional urban life themselves: the policing, drug slinging, political bribing, and bureaucratic buck-passing that comprise the essence of the show’s portrait of Baltimore in decay. The Wire offers a veritable how-to lesson on the police procedures of wire tapping, shipyard tracking, and surveillance, as well as less sanctioned practices of drug distribution, smuggling, and bribery. While traditional police procedurals have documented the practices of detection and prosecution as evidence of a functional and robust criminal justice system, The Wire’s procedural detail shows official systems that cannot match the discipline, creativity, and flexibility of criminals, both outside and within the city payroll, thus offering a cynical vision of a police system playing out a losing hand.
<22> The show’s formal style supports its claims to authenticity. While it avoids Dragnet’s procedural voiceover narration, The Wire shares a similar commitment to underplaying drama and allowing the onscreen dialogue and action tell the story. The show refuses to use non-diegetic music except to conclude each season, and minimizing camera movement and flashy editing, allowing performances and writing to tell the story with a naturalistic visual style. Unlike many of its contemporary shows employing complex narrative strategies, The Wire avoids flashbacks, voice-over, fantasy sequences, repetition from multiple perspectives, or reflexive commentary on the narrative form itself (see Mittell 2006). In terms of how the show stylistically tells its story, The Wire appears more akin to conventional procedurals like Law & Order than contemporary innovators like The Sopranos or 24, sharing a commitment to authenticity and realism typified by a minimized documentary-style aesthetic that Simon summarizes: “Less is more.Explaining everything to the slowest or laziest member of the audience destroys verisimilitude and reveals the movie itself, rather than the reality that the movie is trying to convey” (Simon 2006).
<23> While its attention to procedural details, authenticity, and verisimilitude might rival any show in television history, ultimately The Wire diverges from one defining attribute of the police procedural. Typically procedurals, whether focusing on police precincts, medical practices, or private detectives, are devoutly episodic in structure—each week, one or more cases gets discovered, processed, and resolved, rarely to reappear or even be remembered in subsequent episodes. On The Wire, cases last an entire season or beyond, and everything that happens is remembered with continuing repercussions throughout the storyworld—lessons are learned, grudges are deepened, stakes are raised. The show demands audiences to invest in their diegetic memories by rewarding detailed consumption with narrative payoffs—for instance, a first season bust of an aide to Senator Clay Davis adds little to that season’s arc, but it sets-up a major plotline of seasons 3 and 4. If Dragnet represents the prototype of the episodic procedural with 100s of interchangeable episodes, The Wire is on the other end of television’s narrational spectrum, with each episode in the series demanding to be viewed in sequence and strict continuity. Thus The Wire functions as what might be television’s only example of a serialized procedural.
<24> How does The Wire structure its balance between serial and episodic storylines? In many examples of television’s contemporary narrative complexity, individual episodes maintain a coherent and steady structure, even when they primarily function as part of a larger storytelling arc (Mittell 2006; Newman 2006). Individual episodes typically offer one self-contained plotline to be resolved while others function primarily within larger season arcs—for instance, Veronica Mars typically introduces and resolves one new mystery each week, while longer character and investigative arcs proceed alongside that week’s stand-alone plot. Other shows use structural devices to identify distinct episodes, such as Lost’s designation of a specific character’s flashbacks each week or Six Feet Under’s “death-of-the-week” structure. The Wire offers very little episodic unity—while each episode is certainly structured to deliver narrative engagement and payoffs, it is hard to isolate any identifying characteristics of a single episode in the way that a show like The Sopranos has particular identifying markers, such as “the college trip” or “the Russian in the woods.” In this way, The Wire does fit Simon’s novelistic ideals, as individual chapters are best viewed as part of a cohesive whole, not as stand-alone entries. Thus The Wire is at once one of television’s most serialized programs, yet also uniquely focused more on institutional procedures and actions than character relationships and emotional struggles that typify most serialized dramas.
<25> What are the impacts of this unique narrative form of the serialized procedural, beyond just a formal innovation with its own pleasurable rewards? Dragnet and subsequent police procedurals represent law enforcement as an efficient machine, a perspective that the narrative form reinforces—by offering a weekly glimpse of how cases are solved and justice is served, the genre supports an underlying ideology of support for the status quo to reassure viewers about the functional state system to protect and serve. Even Homicide’s cynical and downbeat vision of law enforcement offers resolution if not reassurance through its closed narrative structures. On The Wire, the ongoing investigations rarely close and never resolve with any ideological certainties or reassurances, heroic victories or emotional releases. When McNulty allows his pride to swell in recognition that their detail are made up of elite “natural police,” Lester knocks him down, pointing out that even if they close a big case, there will be no “parade, a gold watch, a shining Jimmy McNulty Day moment” (3.9). Even if a resolution to a case arrives, the show refuses closure or any sense of justice being served. Refusing ideological closure or offering any easy answers to solving the complex systemic problems documented in The Wire, in the end it’s all just a game with another hand waiting to be dealt.
<26> The Wire’s game logic returns to the fore here. Many of television’s complex narratives employ a puzzle structure to motivate viewer interest, inspiring fans to watch shows like Lost, Veronica Mars, and Heroes with a forensic eye for details to piece together the mysteries and enigmas encoded within their serial structures. Despite being centered on crimes and detectives, The Wire offers almost no mysteries—we typically know who the criminals are and what they did. Even though the second season begins with an unsolved murder of a shipping container full of Eastern European prostitutes, the whodunit is downplayed in the narrative drive, with the final revelation becoming almost an afterthought with the focus shifted to the larger system of corruption and smuggling. Instead of mysteries, the show’s narrative is focused on the game between competing systems, with suspense and tension generated through anticipation of what procedures will pay off for each side, and how the various sides will end up before the next round is played. The cultural logic of traditional mysteries is based upon a belief in functional institutions of justice being able to solve and punish crime; in The Wire’s cynical vision, mysteries are only obstacles to improving clearance rates for homicide detectives, or disruptions in the functioning machinery of a criminal operation.
<27> The procedural focus of The Wire can be viewed as tied not only to television traditions, but also to the mechanics of gameplay. Within the world of game studies, the term procedural conjures far different connotations than Dragnet and C.S.I.; procedural authorship is seen by some as the essence of coding gameplay or “procedural narrative,” outlining the operations that render the storyworld and player agency (Murray 1997; Mateas & Stern 2007). Although The Wire’s procedural language is not written in binary, each Baltimore institution has an underlying code, from the rules of the drug game’s parlay to the racial rotation in electing union leaders. The show frequently highlights what happens when conflicting codes overlap, as with Stringer’s attempt to bring Robert’s Rules of Order to the meetings of drug dealers, or Colvin’s détente in the drug war to create Hamsterdam—such procedural conflicts trigger the complex social simulation needed to represent the urban environment.
<28> Ultimately it is through its focus on procedure, at the levels of action, play, and code, that The Wire generates its verisimilitude, creating a ludic engagement with the SimCity of 21st century Baltimore. HBO brands its offerings as “not TV,” and in some ways The Wire delivers, offering a mode of storytelling untried in commercial American television, with a tone and outlook antithetical to the medium’s cultural role as a consensus-building vehicle for selling products. But in its innovation, The Wire does reframe what television can do, how stories can be told—perhaps inspired by the novel but referencing the cultural form of games, the show ultimately presents a new model of serial procedurality that offers a probing social investigation of the urban condition. And as the players remind us, “it’s all in the game.”
Mateas, Michael, and Andrew Stern (2007). “Writing Façade: A Case Study in Procedural Authorship.” In Second Person: Role-Playing and Story in Games and Playable Media, edited by N. Wardrip-Fruin and P. Harrigan. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 183-208.
Mills, David (2007). Undercover Black Man: “Q&A: David Simon (Pt. 1),” January 22 [accessed May 22 2007]. Available from http://undercoverblackman.blogspot.com/2007/01/q-david-simon-pt-1.html.
Mittell, Jason (2004). Genre and Television: From Cop Shows to Cartoons in American Culture. New York: Routledge.
Mittell, Jason (2006). “Narrative Complexity in Contemporary American Television.” The Velvet Light Trap (58): 29-40.
Moulthrop, Stuart (2004). “From Work to Play: Molecular Culture in the Time of Deadly Games.” In First Person: New Media as Story, Performance, and Game, edited by N. Wardrip-Fruin and P. Harrigan. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 56-70.
Murray, Janet Horowitz (1997). Hamlet on the Holodeck: The Future of Narrative in Cyberspace. New York: Free Press.
Newman, Michael Z. (2006). “From Beats to Arcs: Toward a Poetics of Television Narrative.” The Velvet Light Trap (58): 16-28.
Simon, David. 2006. “The Wire on HBO: Play or Get Played | Exclusive Q&a with David Simon,” August 16 [accessed May 22 2007]. Available from http://members.aol.com/TheWireHBO/exclusive-1.html.
Zimmerman, Eric (2004). “Narrative, Interactivity, Play, and Games: Four Naughty Concepts in Need of Discipline.” In First Person: New Media as Story, Performance, and Game, edited by N. Wardrip-Fruin and P. Harrigan. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 154-65.
Zurawik, David. 2006. “David Simon Has Novel Ideas About Wire.” Baltimore Sun, September 10.
Copyright 2007 by Jason Mittell – this post is not licensed under CreativeCommons (sorry…)
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