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Namond, son of imprisoned gangster Wee-Bey, lives with a tyrannical mother who wants him to make money for her by dealing drugs.

That one of the most progressive TV shows in the medium's history is also one of the best is deeply heartening.

That one of the most progressive TV shows in the medium's history consistently demonstrates its ignorance of and disinterest in gender politics is utterly depressing.

This ignorance almost seems calculated -- for every aspect of the program that makes you wish creator David Simon was president, there's an anti-feminist flipside.

Points to The Wire for its tireless emphasis on the circumstances and institutional pressures that make people who they are.

Unlike the show's empathetic gangsters, women in The Wire are born bad.

Its creators fail to recognize that "dragon lady" De'Londa Brice is a victim of racial, economic, and sexual circumstance.

But gender is either excluded from, or a mere footnote to, this sophisticated, expansive worldview.

Democracy is at the heart of the program, to the extent that viewers find themselves caring about 20 characters almost equally.

The typical viewers' response to The Wire is characterized by a combination of childlike joy, politicized inspiration, and an impatient desire to convert.

These effects can't just be attributed to the show's labyrinthine, suspenseful plots that weld humour and tragedy, or its nuanced performances and richly layered scripts.

It is a disability that is thrown into sharp, saddening focus in Season Four, when the show's revolutionary treatment of children emerges alongside some of the most chilling examples of sexism in The Wire's run.

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