Simon is not Flawless

At this point in the year, the only person who’s jaw would actually drop when they saw that title is David Simon himself. Still, I still feel obligated to point out one thing that Generation Kill has really shown is that Simon is not perfect. The Wire, in many ways, was a near-perfect show – though the last season, as many writers have pointed out, falls off the table a little bit due to time constraints put on by HBO. Although Generation Kill is a very good show, it is nowhere near the level of either The Wire or the original book itself. The fact of the matter is, Generation Kill, the show, lacks the complexity of The Wire and the realism of the book (and, although Simon concedes that there were times during the making of the show that they had to sacrifice things, he shys away from actually criticizing the show; any criticisms that he accepts he attributes to the “bosses”).

Richard Beck and Nancy Franklin both address these unspoken issues in their respective interview and article. In his interview with Simon, Beck tries to ask Simon about some of these potential flaws of the show. Simon, however, is quick to advert any of these flaws, making claims that are, quite simply, absurd. For example, Beck brings up one complaint by some viewers that two of the characters in the show were almost impossible to distinguish – both because of a lack of depth and similar looking actors. Simon quickly retorts, “That’s how it is when you’re dropped into a unit. I wanted you to feel the initial disorientation” (48). Beck, of course, cannot respond to this somewhat questionable response, but you can almost feel him trying to conceal his smile as Simon made this claim.

Franklin, on the other hand, is much more vocally critical of the show. One of her biggest complaints was the way Simon adapted the book to the screen. “The magazine pieces are punchy; in the book, the tone has been neutralized and the author’s voice is not nearly as present. Fatally, it is entirely missing from the miniseries” (2).

What Franklin and Beck both demonstrate is the last thing David Simon would ever want to hear – he is not a flawless television producer. Yes, he was great with his portrayal of detectives in Homicide, and with his story telling of drug dealers and users in The Corner. And, he was near-perfect with his portrayal of Baltimore in The Wire. This time, however, he simply missed the mark. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad, if he could just accept that.

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