This year marks the 20th anniversary of The Wire, the landmark HBO drama series created by David Simon and Ed Burns. Drawing on Simon’s experience as a journalist and Burns’s time as a cop, the show explored life in the city of Baltimore, with each season looking at a different institution, from the police to unions to politics to public schools.
Simon and Burns are back with a new HBO series, We Own This City, which tells the true story of Baltimore’s corrupt Gun Task Force. The pair have been out promoting it over the past few weeks, and Burns had some interesting things to say about how TV has changed since The Wire wrapped up in 2008.
Burns said that The Wire could “definitely not” have been made on HBO if it had been pitched today. “Now, it’s got to be Game of Thrones. It’s got to be big. It’s got to be disconnected from stepping on anybody’s toes,” he told The New York Times. “I’ve watched a couple of the limited series on HBO, and they’re good shows, but they’re not cutting new paths. They are whodunits or these rich women bickering among themselves in a town. I don’t see anybody saying, ‘Hey, that’s a really great show.’”
That being said, We Own This City is still a true-to-life, gritty cop drama that is very much removed from the "big" scale of a Game of Thrones—but it's probably easier to sell that to HBO after you've had all that success with The Wire. And it seems to have worked for Burns again: We Own This City currently has a 92-percent positive rating with critics on Rotten Tomatoes.