It's been said before, but I'll say it again - The Wire is the best show on television - period. There are so many reasons to cite, but allow me to start with 3 that really hit me everytime I think about them. Here we go:
(Note: Slight SPOILER ALERT. I will not be revealing any important plot details, but I will be mentioning several characters and the broader show outline).
1) The Characters - The characters in The Wire are both incredibly real and incredibly compelling. And I'm not just talking about a few of the junkies, cops, or dealers. I'm talking about everyone except possibly Brother Mouzone who's literary refined hired killer personality is slightly unbelievable. Simply thinking about figures like: Stringer Bell, Daniels, Bubs, Wallace, Clay, Chris, and Michael (just naming a few) is more than enough to have an emotional overload. The roundness of those characters and their own 3-dimensional trials and moral quandries makes them practically too compelling. Literally, you pretty much feel that you know each character (or at least somebody like them) and you appreciate and empathize with each of their struggles - even when ultimately, they're killers or drug dealers.
2) Baltimore As Your Lead Character - This kind of imagination and ambition is what sets The Wire apart from most other shows. Truthfully, I do not believe I had previously ever watched a TV series or a movie that has attempted to use an entire city (an incredibly large landscape) as the protagonist. What is more amazing than the ambition it takes to do this though is the fact that Simon manages to succeed in turning Baltimore into his protagonist. As each season goes by you feel closer and closer with Baltimore - empathizing with it, praying for it, getting upset when it experiences a defeat. My love for Baltimore has actually trancended the show as well and is at this point just a part of who I am. I can sense it when I go to Baltimore, and I have quite a few times felt a need to comb the streets of the Western.
3) Broadening The Lens - This is actually the method to the madness of a city as your protagonist. In portraying Baltimore as the central figure in the story, the Wire begins the first season totally zoomed in - there are simply dealers, addicts, and police. Then as each season goes on, it gradually zooms out and starts telling the story of the city's blue collar workers (the wire season 2), its political figures (season 3), schools (season 4), and journalists (season 5). This is not an easy feat, but The Wire is able to do it with the same unbelievably powerful dynamics that drew you in during the first season. This capacity to color a whole city, document it in time, and show all of the sadness and affliction is what the copy writers jokingly call the Dickensian aspect. And they manage to caputre it magnificently.
If you have not seen The Wire, I definitely recommend it. You won't second guess your decision.