How To Stream A Classic

It’s summer — time for a more leisurely taste of the overflowing buffet of TV/video content out there. So what’s your pleasure?

Maybe, like me, you’ve been disappointed by recent offerings, such as the uneven seasons of “The Americans” (soooo boring!) and “Orange Is The New Black” (mostly awful flashbacks, weird shifts between comedy and drama).

So you might seek out something more surefire that’s stood the test of time. (That’s TV time, shorter than movie time for defining what’s a classic.)

Consider “The Wire,” the fictional look into Baltimore’s drug culture that, among other honors, is named third-best in “TV: The Book — Two Experts Pick The Greatest American Shows Of All Time.”

Inspired by my friend Ann — a longtime cord-cutter who heroically binged all 60 episodes in a month — I began streaming my way through the show, but much more slowly.



So, yeah, you gotta keep your own pace. Here’s a few other tips on how to get the most out of summer streaming:

Take advantage of supplemental reading.

It’s helpful to pick a show whose final episode aired some time ago, so you gain some perspective in reviews published after the fact. (“The Wire” ran from 2002 to 2008.)

Also, recaps of individual episodes — like Alan Sepinwall’s masterful ones of “The Wire” — can also be a godsend in making sense of ambiguous scenes and large, frequently changing casts.

Don’t be a snowflake about spoilers.

That's especially true if you’re watching an older show and are doing supplemental reading.

Remember the ancient Greeks, who already knew Oedipus would blind himself after marrying his mother, but watched the play anyway. For them, the draw was catharsis. For me, even if I know who's going to be killed or hook up, the draw is seeing how an event actually plays out.

Explore extra-credit assignments.

Watching one show can lead to others, as you follow an actor you like. Take Dominic West. He's the "Wire" nominal lead Jimmy McNulty, who becomes a different kind of asshole on Showtime’s “The Affair” — again, without reverting to his native Brit-speak.

Fellow Englishman Idris Elba, “The Wire”’s charismatic drug dealer Stringer Bell, does a 180 on “Luther,” where he plays a detective with a British accent.

Alison Brie of "Mad Men" stars in Netflix’s current offering, the fabulous “GLOW,” as an aspiring actress/lady wrestler — about as far from Trudy Campbell as you can get.

And for a short burst of meta “Mad Men” nostalgia, watch this excerpt from Fox's “The Last Man On Earth,” which stars January Jones, formerly Betty Draper. All I’ll say is, revenge is sweet. 

2 comments about "How To Stream A Classic".
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  1. George Simpson from George H. Simpson Communications, July 12, 2017 at 10:31 a.m.

    Pretty sure that The Wire is not fiction, but based on the book Homicide by David Simon: Is a long read but rewarding.

  2. Phyllis Fine from Mediapost, July 12, 2017 at 4:42 p.m.

    Thanks, George, for mentioning that 1991 nonfiction book. Though the TV show  "The Wire" does take some characters from the book, it does fictionalize their experiences. So I think it's safe to call it fictional. The book was also the original source material for the earlier TV show "Homicide: Life on the Streets."

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