‘We Own This City’: Why the Show Is so Important

HBO’s newest limited series, We Own This City, centers on a modern-day corrupt police department. The series was co-created by David Simon, who is also responsible for creating the critically acclaimed drama, The Wire. The older series is often touted as the best television show of all time, despite the fact that it never won any major awards.

Still, We Own This City, which is set almost 15 years after the end of The Wire, is also extremely important.

Jon Bernthal as Wayne Jenkins hunching over in a bullet proof vest in 'We Own This City'
Jon Bernthal as Wayne Jenkins in ‘We Own This City’ | HBO

What is ‘We Own This City’ about?

Simon’s latest project, which is co-created with George Pelecanos, is based on the real-life 2017 scandal that rocked the Baltimore police department. It was brought to the page in Justin Fenton’s 2021 book. We Own This City: A True Story of Crime, Cops, and Corruption. Now it’s been showcased on the small-screen.

HBO said in a statement,

WE OWN THIS CITY shows how the department’s desperate reliance on statistics over substances eventually led to the inability of department officials to supervise the Gun Trace Task Force and the further inability of the department to discipline rogue police. At the time of the GTTF scandal in 2017, though there were numerous indications of corruption within several plainclothes units going back almost a decade, Baltimore police commanders held to the belief that any street unit could bring in guns and drugs consistently had to be championed and protected. WE OWN THIS CITY depicts the inevitable corruption of a unit given this carte blanche.

Why is ‘We Own This City’ so important?

As we see in We Own This City, the corruption in the BPD’s Gun Trace Task Force went back nearly a decade. As the officers in the unit grew bolder, they stole not only from residents of the city but also from the CPD itself. When we talk about modern-day policing, it is usually centering the public’s lack of trust or police brutality.

However, We Own This City also spotlights systematic and political problems that are embedded into policing in the United States. In the series, the systems and procedures of policing are on display and explored in-depth. Moreover, while the police aren’t always shown in the best light, the serious nature of the series allows them to be humanized and shows other offers who do their best to do the right thing.

We Own This City’s truthfulness is why the series is so important.

‘We Own This City’ is not connected to ‘The Wire’

While they are both David Simon projects and are based in Baltimore, and several of the actors overlap, We Own This City is not connected to The Wire. Instead, Simon told Vulture that he sees the new series as a “coda” to The Wire.

It should also be noted that while The Wire has truthful elements, We Own This City is based on things that actually happened in Baltimore following the devastating case of Freddie Gray.