By: Oberst Von Berauscht (A Toast) –
This six-part miniseries from the creator’s of The Wire was released several years before HBO’s epic crime-drama series. And much like The Wire, The Corner is a take-no-prisoners story from the streets and slums of Baltimore, Maryland. The story focuses on the McCullough family, Gary (T.K. Carter), Fran (Khandi Alexander), and their son DeAndre (Sean Nelson). Gary and Fran are both struggling with drug addiction, one which separated them from each other, and from their son. DeAndre lives with his mother, but pays little attention to her and instead focuses on his job selling drugs on the streets. The series follows them over the span of a year as they struggle to survive poverty and their many attempts to kick the habit.
It is not the good life. But it is life…
The first three episodes set the characters up, and each has a different theme which builds on each other. Episode One, called “Gary’s Blues”, reveals that Gary was once an up and coming businessman who made a decent living playing the stock market, and contrasts his success with his current situation stealing scrap metal to sell for cash. Episode Two or “DeAndre’s Blues” tells the story of how Gary and Fran’s son lives, and how he basically has to fend for himself, which leads to increasingly risky decisions. “Fran’s Blues” details her attempts to kick heroin, with flashbacks which show how she may have been responsible for Gary’s fall. The next three episodes show the consequences of each character’s actions, or inactions, culminating in an ending that leaves no stones unturned.
Each episode is punctuated with documentary-style interview segments, which help to bring home the reality of the situation, in that these stories, while being performed by actors, are directly tied to real people. Featuring a cast that is almost totally African-American, and with characters based on actual people, The Corner is as real as it gets. Rarely has a film or miniseries so accurately captured the feel of a community in crisis. Characters who feel like someone you may know populate the screen, such as the embattled rec-center manager, whose dedication to saving the neighborhood seems an impossible dream. There is very little the show presents to see that dedication as encouraging, but instead of despairing, The Corner simply relates the story. While it doesn’t offer any easy solutions to the problems on display, it does raise the viewer’s awareness that a solution needs to be found.
If the world was this simple, we’d all be mathematicians
This is the sort of film they need to show in classrooms, but it’s too real, and might scare the normals. Brilliant performances, a fascinating story, eye-opening, and absolutely essential.
Bonus Drinking Game
Take a Drink: when someone relapses or sinks back into a risky behavior.
Take a Drink: when you realize you’re playing a drinking game to a film about substance abuse…
Drink a Shot: in anticipation of your own inevitable intervention.