In Talbot’s “Stealing Life”, there is an anecdote about actor Andre Royo (Bubbles) while on set in Baltimore for “The Wire”. He was totally dressed up and ready for a scene when a guy off the street just walks up to him, passes him a small bag of heroin and says something to the effect of “You need this shit more than I do.” Later on, Royo reflected on this moment as a validation of him looking enough like an addict out of West Baltimore by calling the bag his “street Oscar”.
I remembered earlier in the semester when we talked about a similar situation on the set of “Homicide”. A criminal who had just robbed a store or bank ran away from the scene and directly into a collection of actors costumed as Baltimore cops on the set of the show. Flustered and defeated, the criminal handed over the cash and gave himself up before even realizing that the cops were fake (he was consequently turned in anyway).
Though I find both of these stories humorous, it is a little disconcerting that these incidents are mechanisms of validation for the realism present in Simon’s shows. If Simon was so intent on bringing the real Baltimore to television, I would imagine that the attitudes around these stories might be less about hilarity and perhaps a little more about the understanding of the gravity of the problems that have been plaguing West Baltimore. It’s a tricky situation to negotiate though because, ideally, one would hope that the show could be confused for real life (if that is Simon’s complete and total intention). Thoughts?