I guess I could simply say The Wire is great, that the tension was so well crafted, that nothing on television has ever felt so real and that so much of it hangs over your head long after you finish watching. It paints this extremely detailed, heart-wrenching, terrifying and incisive picture of an American city where everything is connected and everyone is doing their best to get by with varying degrees of morality. But everyone is also reacting and doing things they don't want to because of things they can't control, and you, as the audience member, are the only one with the omnipotent point of view that knows the real problems.
Except even knowing the real problem doesn't mean you have the real solution. Everything is so wrapped up together and fucked up and inescapable that it feels like this slow lurching towards doom is the only place this story can go, with very little exception and wiggle room. I guess that's what gets you the most: It feels like the real world, and the real world is such a fucked up place with small victories and bigger losses. Nothing ever really gets resolved, no one really wins. Situations change, and those come with new baggage that will continue to compromise and cripple any and all hope.
But if you've even heard of The Wire, you've probably already read all kinds of ranting and ravings about how amazing and powerful and important the show was. I don't have anything new to add except an agreeing nod, a subdued "Yep." It is probably the greatest show I've seen so far. But I was particularly interested in its depictions of criminals and criminality.