Pepsi or Coke? Dogs or cats? Chris Pine, Hemsworth, Evans, or Pratt? Now it’s time to add another debate to the pop culture hall of fame: The Sopranos or The Wire? On this week’s episode of EW’s Best of Shows podcast, Darren Franich and I confront that Peak TV match-up, which was brought to us by listener Gretchen Elliot, who sent a tweet with this question: “If I’ve never seen either The Sopranos or The Wire, which should I binge first?”
You can listen to Darren and me lay out detailed arguments for our chosen shows below, but since I’m the one writing this post, here’s a preview of my “pro” arguments for each.
The Sopranos (1999-2007)
Emmy tally: 106 wins
Rank on EW’s All-Time Greatest TV list: 5
Why you should binge it first: From a purely “pop culture literacy” standpoint, The Sopranos is slightly more relevant at the moment. The finale is still frequently referenced (Stephen Colbert recently joked about it recently when he was grilling Kit Harrington about how Game of Thrones is going to end); David Chase is working on a Sopranos prequel movie called The Many Saints of Newark; and it’s also the show’s 20th anniversary this year, so a lot of people are doing a rewatch, with the aid of Matt Zoller Seitz and Alan Sepinwall’s book The Sopranos Sessions.
The Wire (2002-2008)
Emmy tally: 0 wins, 2 nominations
Rank on EW’s All-Time Greatest TV list: 1
Why you should binge it first: Because it is, without question, the best show ever made. It features some of the industry’s finest actors (Idris Elba, Aiden Gillen, Amy Ryan, Dominic West) doing the most superb work of their careers. The creator, David Simon, is literally a genius.
To see which HBO drama wins this verbal throwdown — and to hear Darren’s pick for the best show of all time (spoiler: it’s not The Sopranos or The Wire) — click play on the episode below.
You can also listen to EW’s Best of Shows podcast via Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Stitcher, Radio.com, or wherever you get your podcasts. New episodes are available every Monday morning. Tweet counterarguments to @KristenGBaldwin or @DarrenFranich.