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Under the wire

(article, Caroline Cummins)

Since the critically acclaimed HBO cop drama "The Wire" began airing in 2002, it has garnered kudos and awards for its intense depictions of the emotions and economics of life in blighted West Baltimore. 

Unlike most cop shows, which generally follow the cowboy-Western format of Good Guys (the police, duh) versus Bad Guys (the criminals), "The Wire" takes pains to show just how intertwined the cops and robbers are. Sure, there's corruption on both sides, but what the show details carelessly and vividly is how similar their lifestyles are. 

Both sides spend their days lounging in cars, loitering around the projects, handling drugs and money, and eating a diet fit for no one. If the majority of the obese people onscreen are middle-aged cops, maybe that's because few of the Bad Guys can count on making it to middle age.

A random sampling of foods consumed or desired by the cops and the criminals on "The Wire" during the show's first season: Hot dogs ("going on a beef run"). Hamburgers. French fries. Sub sandwiches. Potato chips. Soda (a can of orange-flavored Slice is a plot point). Juice boxes. Chinese takeout. Reese's peanut-butter cups. Canned iced tea.

In one episode, a drug dealer takes a date to a fancy restaurant, where they immediately feel uncomfortable despite their elegant duds. They're asked if they'd like dessert, and the date immediately responds, "I'd like a piece of chocolate cake." She doesn't know she has options.

In a later episode, three younger drug runners are eating in a fast-food restaurant. One of them reminisces about a different fast-food operation his mother used to take him to that specialized in fruit. "Fruit — what, like juice?" one of his buds demands. 

After all, when was the last time any of them ate a piece of fresh fruit?