MADELEINE BRAND, host:
Back now with DAY TO DAY.
(Soundbite of song)
Unidentified Man (Singer): (Singing) When you walk through the garden, better watch your back.
BRAND: This Sunday, HBO airs the final episode of one of the best TV shows ever, "The Wire." I guess I'll survive. Youth Radio's Orlando Campbell is 19 years old. He lives in Oakland, California. "The Wire" is one of his favorite shows, too. Orlando says he'll miss seeing a reflection of his life on TV every week.
Mr. ORLANDO CAMPBELL (Youth Radio): When I saw "The Wire" for the first time, I thought finally a show about us. HBO's groundbreaking series brought me to a place I knew all too well. This show is about the inner workings and struggles of people in a city on the decline and how the police and government respond to these realities.
The characters remind me of my friends. They're products of the '80s and early '90s. They're the sons and daughters of crackheads and single-parent homes, and they're living in an environment that forces them to adapt for their survival.
My friends and I deal with some of the same issues as "The Wire"'s corner kids do, from going in and out of jail to stealing cars for joyrides to getting pulled over and illegally searched by the police.
One of the main characters is Mike, a teen born and raised in West Baltimore. At just 16, he's the muscle for the biggest drug dealer in town. From an outside perspective, he's a menace to society, but instead of portraying him as some lost-child stereotype, "The Wire" takes us deep into his world. We see him overcome the sexual abuse of his stepfather and provide for his little brother, all while his mom is out selling any food in the house for crack.
On "The Wire," no character is one-dimensional, and this show doesn't make the mistake of giving solutions to the problems it addresses. After five seasons, what's clear is that the messed-up situations in places like Baltimore, Oakland or any inner city have been untreated for so long, life seems hopeless.
Many people I know feel that same hopelessness, and "The Wire gives viewers a tablespoon taste of that feeling. It tells outsiders there's more to our lives than the ghetto stereotypes in their heads.
"The Wire" is the first time I've seen a series depict the gritty life so accurately, and I'm upset that I won't get to be a part of the characters' lives anymore, but more importantly, I'm angry that when the show comes to a close, so will viewers' window into a world many Americans would never dare to understand.
BRAND: Orlando Campbell lives in Oakland, California. His essay comes to us from Youth Radio.