Blue and red lights illuminate trails of blood on a street in Baltimore, sirens sound, a detective collects evidence, a uniformed officer fills out paperwork, a body lies in the street, and the first episode of David Simon’s The Wire begins, as if it were just another iteration of the television police procedural or cop drama. If it was, it is likely that an hour later the audience would be entertained and satisfied. The police would have identified the evil criminals and brought them to some sort of justice, and, in so doing, they would have reassured viewers that theirs is a moral, just and legitimate society. Simon, however, takes audiences in a different direction. Simon’s project is to make a moral appeal to his viewers showing the lives of many in Baltimore as tragically bound by the institutions in their lives. In so doing, he challenges both city leaders and their booster representation of the city as well as the foundational myths of American society. Simon’s challenge, though, lacks a clear articulation of an affirmative social and political project.