Baltimore - It's a class that centers on life in Baltimore. But this course has never been taught in Charm City - until now. ABC2 News Joce Sterman takes us into the classroom to see how a course at Johns Hopkins about “The Wire” is helping students find ways to fix Baltimore's problems.
It's the hit TV show that brought the mean streets of Baltimore to the screen for better or worse. Johns Hopkins sophomore Andy Scott explains, "Definitely ‘The Wire’ has a very harsh view."
It’s a view that doesn't hold back when it comes to highlighting the complications of life in this city. And it's riveting t-v to say the least. Just ask Dr. Peter Beilenson. He says, "Last summer I watched all 60 episodes in a 3 week span, to the point where my wife said, ‘Please go to bed, stop watching until 3 am’."
Beilenson wasn't glued to the tube just because his former role as Baltimore City Health Commissioner gets screen time. He thought the show could be the focus of a class for students in the thick of city life at Johns Hopkins University. He tells ABC2, "I didn't want just the specifics of ‘The Wire’ to be hardened in their minds as this all Baltimore is."
So he's using the show as a platform to show these college kids what Baltimore is all about. He’s brought the players behind the characters to class to bring the TV stories into real focus, going far beyond the plot lines from HBO. Sophomore Danielle Lohan says, "I've gotten a lot of remarks like, ‘Wow it must be so easy to watch TV instead of doing reading’. It's really not because it's a lot of following the story, knowing what corresponds to what, so it's a lot more intense."
The intensity comes from talking about tough issues like drugs and homelessness. They’re problems these kids have seen outside the safety of campus.
But this class isn't just about learning about the problems in Baltimore. Beilenson also wants to hear about solutions. And the kids are giving them, presenting new ways to deal with the challenges of life in the city.
So on one of their final days in class, these students had to stand before their classmates and give their take on restoring the charm of Charm City. Lohan explains, "It's a little bit daunting, especially since most of us are freshmen and sophomores. But I think one of the big aspects of it is that we're actually doing something about it, rather than just learning about what's going on and saying, ‘Well okay, there's nothing you can do’. We're actively trying to do something."
These students are walking a thin line between reality and really good TV, using ‘The Wire’ as a way to change the city for the better.
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