After tonight, no more “Wire.” Which means the end of a vast array of rich roles for black actors. On that basis alone, “The Wire” was a great leap forward for American television.
Embedded below, from the archives of the Museum of Broadcast Communications, is a 5-minute summary of the history of black portrayals on primetime TV... from “Amos ’n’ Andy” and “Beulah” to “I Spy” and “Julia” to “Good Times” and “Miami Vice.”
This piece aired in 1984 – the year of “The Cosby Show” – on WTTW, Chicago’s public television station.
There’s no denying, we’ve come a long way.
UPDATE (03/10/08): DeAngelo Starnes’s review of the “Wire” finale is up at EbonyJet.com. He writes, in part:
“I heard a lot of rap saying that this season’s ‘Wire’ was its weakest. I don’t feel that way. I thought it was just as strong as the others. It was different certainly because it didn’t rely as much on black thuggery to power its episodes. However, I thought the political and social content may have been its strongest during its run.”