Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Political Science

First Advisor

Zoe Oxley


popular culture, legal, television, media


This thesis is a content analysis of HBO’s fourth season of The Wire. After conducting an in-depth analysis of the content in the thirteen episodes of season four, I then assessed the level of accuracy in the show’s portrayal of two major topics discussed throughout the season: Witness protection and police informant harassment. I did so by conducting several interviews with professionals who have several decades of experience working in the criminal justice system. I compared their personal experience with witness protection programs, witness harassment, and police informant harassment with the content presented in The Wire on these topics. Finally, I presented my own conclusions about the show’s continued importance and relevance in the age of social and political activism in 2020 and 2021.

In Chapter One, I will present my literature review of the work already published on the relationship between American popular culture and the legal system in the United States, as well as the work published on The Wire itself. In Chapter Two, I will describe my methodology for my analysis process of season four of The Wire and the goals and expectations I had prior to beginning my research. In Chapter Three, I will present my analysis of season four and my overall findings of the show’s portrayal of schools, the drug trade/criminal activity, law enforcement, and politics. In Chapter Four, I will present my process of interviewing several professionals who work in the criminal justice system and my findings from these interviews. In Chapter Five, I will finally conclude my thesis and suggest future directions for researchers to go in and how The Wire continues to remain relevant in 2021.