"I must admit being skeptical of Linda Williams's thesis that The Wire is best understood as melodrama. But after reading her convincing and compelling analysis, I not only came away with new insights into a series that I knew very well, but have fully revised my notions of how serial melodrama applies to contemporary television. This vital book is essential reading for scholars and viewers of both The Wire and television drama more broadly."
(Jason Mittell, author of Television and American Culture
"Linda Williams's kaleidoscopic study compellingly considers The Wire as art, as rhetoric, and as political intervention. Her absorbing argument for the series as 'institutional melodrama' upends conventional discussions not only about this narrative but about the broader practice of contemporary television drama. We understand The Wire not as tragedy, not as a novel, not as a piece of journalism; rather, we see and feel the show at the intersection of home and the world, as the orange couch in the courtyard of the low rises."
(Sean O'Sullivan, author of Mike Leigh
"On the Wire is a readable, rigorously argued account of HBO’s seminal series. . . . Williams is noted for being a top scholar in film and media studies, but On the Wire demonstrates that above all else she is a passionate fan of the series. In order to explain why she loves it so much, and why it has impacted American culture with such force, she’s written a must-read book for everyone who believes that The Wire is life-changing fiction of the highest order."
(Jon Lisi PopMatters
"Linda Williams’s book revolutionizes the ways we approach the series. Hers is a provocative, productive analysis that makes an essential contribution to the sociology of television: not only how to think of television as social force but its own ability to constitute sociological investigation."
(Dana Polan Film Quarterly
“By tying The Wire’s forcefulness to its televisual and melodramatic nature, On The Wire reveals that however exceptional, this show can also be a model. As such, this book modestly saves the series from monumentality.”
(Nathan Holmes Critical Inquiry
"Williams’ s study... provides a view of The Wire that is often illuminating and surprising…"
(Stanley Corkin Journal of American Studies
“As an avid fan of the series The Wire, Linda Williams’s book was a thoroughly interesting read. … In each section, the author skillfully weaves the storyline from episodes into her argument in a believable and defensible fashion. … Williams’s volume offers a unique perspective on a beloved series.”
(Amy Muckleroy Carwile Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly
“On The Wire is an ambitious study that makes an original, compelling argument about a series on which much has already been written. The questions Williams sets out in the early part of her monograph both pay tribute to The Wire and make clear that she is willing to probe the assumptions often made about it. ...Pushing back against the critical consensus, On The Wire is not just an original study of its chosen series but also a model for how we should think about contemporary television more generally.”
(George Potts Critical Quarterly
“Williams’s On The Wire is a fascinating text. Whether she is lauding the series for its capacity to ruffle certain cinematic conventions and assumptions about race and class or criticizing the show for its diminished gender politics (e.g., blaming the single black mother), her analysis is coherent, trenchant, and provocative. … For those interested in the series and those interested more generally in film and media studies, American culture, and the intersection of race and class, On The Wire will be an enjoyable and provocative read.”
(Joseph Winters African American Review
“On The Wire is not only an important work for any study of The Wire, but is also an important offering for television scholarship. Furthermore, On The Wire provides strong analysis of the role of melodrama in society, and establishes an illuminating vocabulary for depictions of race in popular culture.”
(Alex Moran 49th Parallel