We appreciate creators dedicated to their visions here at Open Culture. If you read Mark Bowden’s Atlantic profile of The Wire creator David Simon—or read our other Wire-centric posts—you’ll know he counts as one such creator. Simon famously went from dedicated newspaperman to dedicated television auteur, bring all of the knowledge he accrued in his years reporting Baltimore street life along with him. If he couldn’t stay on the beat covering drugs, violence, and the failure of American institutions, it seems he decided to dramatize all of them as accurately, and as intricately, as possible. Fans of nineties television will recall the NBC cop show Homicide: Life on the Street, adapted from Simon’s book Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets, which paved the way for The Wire, which certain fans of 21st-century television worship. The Corner bridged them.
This six-episode HBO miniseries (buy online here) came adapted from The Corner: A Year in the Life of an Inner-City Neighborhood, a book Simon wrote with Ed Burns, a former Baltimore homicide detective and future Wire collaborator. Originally airing in 2000, The Corner had a specific corner in mind: West Fayette Street and North Monroe Street, where the avenues of drugs and poverty, two of Simon’s abiding interests, meet at an unusually robust intersection. Though not unheralded at the time—a Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Miniseries came its way—The Corner has found itself surpassed in the collective televisual mind, if understandably, by its successor. While you must see the almost hubristically ambitious scope of The Wire to believe it, The Corner‘s narrower focus on drugs and their effects on working-class urban families makes for valuable supplementary viewing. Watch the first episode above, and the rest collected at Biblioklept.
Colin Marshall hosts and produces Notebook on Cities and Culture and writes essays on literature, film, cities, Asia, and aesthetics. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall.