On a recent trip to Cancún, Mexico, a resort employee asked me where I was from. Thinking nothing of the rather normal question, I simply responded, “Baltimore.” I was met with what I should consider a rather normal follow-up question: “Oh, like ‘The Wire’?”

“The Wire” is a timeless television show created by former Baltimore Sun reporter David Simon that depicted some of the culture in our city, such as the war on drugs and issues with the school system. But the critically acclaimed five-season crime drama, which ran on HBO from 2002 to 2008, has become so well-known that even nearly 16 years after it ended, the series is still used to describe Baltimore by those who have never visited the city.

The most recent proof of this came last week, after the tragic collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge.

Many people shared a screen grab from Season 2 of characters Frank and Nick Sobotka standing in front of the bridge. “You see that bridge, Nick? It’s one of them, whaddya call it, a metaphor,” the caption reads. “It’s like us Sobotkas, and our union, and the whole working class in this country. It’s gonna last forever, just like we are.”

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Except it’s a fake quote. The actual scene from the show involves Frank fussing with his nephew Nick about their family’s involvement with selling drugs. But because the news involved Baltimore, it was seen through the lens of this one show.

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“Oh, like ‘The Wire,’” follows every Baltimore native no matter where they go, in person or online. As great as the show is, there are several more series that have taken place in the area, including some that are more lighthearted and less gloomy. Maybe even suggest one of them to the next person who asks you if you know Omar.

‘One on One’

“One on One,” starring Flex Alexander and Kyla Pratt, aired on UPN from 2001 to 2006. The sitcom focuses on the dynamic between Alexander’s character — a former NBA player turned sportscaster for a fictional station in Baltimore — and his teenage daughter, played by Pratt, after she moves in with him. Numerous celebrities make cameos throughout the series, including Brandy, Omarion, Lisa Leslie and, of course, Baltimore’s own Mario. (Available to stream on Prime Video and Pluto TV.)

‘The Following’

Crime thriller “The Following” aired on Fox from 2013 to 2015. Kevin Bacon plays a former FBI agent attempting to capture a serial killer who escaped from prison and has since formed a cult. The series takes place throughout the U.S., but it is predominantly set in different cities in Maryland. The show’s 45 nearly hourlong episodes are constant games of cat-and-mouse. It’ll keep you guessing and constantly on the edge of your seat — even if it’s only because some familiar faces from “The Wire” like Gbenga Akinnagbe and J. D. Williams pop up. In its third season, the show also stars Michael Ealy, who was raised in Silver Spring and graduated from the University of Maryland at College Park. (Available to stream on Apple TV, Prime Video, YouTube and Fandango.)


My Baltimore Banner colleague Leslie Gray Streeter described “Roc” perfectly in a column last year as a “love letter to working-class Black Baltimore.” The sitcom, which aired from 1991 to 1994, stars Baltimore’s own Charles S. Dutton as the titular character who is a city garbage collector. The show dives into typical sitcom topics like balancing family and work life, but also touches more serious storylines, including racism. “Roc” featured several big-name celebrities in recurring roles, including Jamie Foxx, Loretta Devine, Kim Fields, Richard Roundtree and Heavy D. (Available to stream on Prime Video, Apple TV and Pluto TV.)

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‘The Boondocks’

“The Boondocks,” based on the comic strip that ran from 1996 to 2006, debuted on Cartoon Network’s late-night programming block Adult Swim in 2005. The animated show, which had four seasons over the span of nine years, satirizes Black culture, politics and more with plenty of familiar guest voices as it follows two young boys (voiced by Oscar winner Regina King) and their grandfather (John Witherspoon) after they move from Chicago to a Maryland suburb. It’s a familiar story for creator Aaron McGruder, who was born in Chicago but moved to Columbia, Maryland, as a young child, and eventually graduated from the University of Maryland at College Park. (Available to stream on Max, Adult Swim, and Spectrum.)


Based on the characters from the Hannibal Lecter universe, “Hannibal” stars Mads Mikkelsen as the title character and Hugh Dancy as Will Graham, a criminal profiler for the FBI. “Hannibal” is based in Baltimore, which is also where Lecter’s psychiatric practice took place in the series of novels by Thomas Harris. The show explores the bond the duo share as Lecter, a secret serial killer and cannibal, attempts to manipulate Graham and the FBI. The show ran from 2013 to 2015 and received critical acclaim, largely because of the on-screen chemistry between Dancy and Mikkelsen. Let’s just hope that a show about a serial killer doesn’t catch on as the next best representation of the city. (Available to stream on Prime Video, AMC+, Shudder, Roku, Pluto TV and Tubi.)

Taji Burris has covered the Baltimore music scene since 2015 for outlets such as The Working Title and The 4th Quarter, and now at the Baltimore Banner.

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