In the aftermath of the protests and unrest in Baltimore following Freddie Gray’s funeral, David Simon felt compelled to speak out against the rioting, and the need for peace in the city where he worked as a journalist before creating HBO’s The Wire. Those words didn’t speak specifically to the circumstances of Gray’s death, or the alarming frequency at which young, unarmed black men are dying at the hands of police, or the frustration and lack of agency that push communities over the edge into mass violence.
That didn’t mean that Simon wasn’t troubled by those things, however. And it certainly seems like these issues are on full display in the trailer for his next project, Show Me A Hero, a HBO miniseries that explores the stratified socioeconomic conditions our country was mired in throughout the 1980s. Paul Haggis is directing the six-episode run, which features scripts by Simon and stars Oscar Isaac, Catherine Keener, and Jim Belushi.
From the trailer, we see forces at work to dislodge segregation and institutional racism through integrated low-income housing, and the explosive forces pushing back against that change. The story is told from the viewpoint of citizens of Yonkers, New York, including whites who fear low-income housing as a threat to their community and blacks who see the resistance the housing projects as a slap in the face. But the majority of the narrative seems to be told from the vantage of Yonkers mayor Nick Wasicsko (Isaac), who is forced to implement the federally mandated, politically toxic housing projects.
While it’s possible to view the story as a sign that we’ve progressed, we should be remind ourselves that this is David Simon (and be aware of Wasicsko’s ultimate demise). More likely, we’re going to be left with a clearly outlined, depressing trail of breadcrumbs, poignantly leading from the old-fashioned racism of the ’80s to the social network-enabled racism of now.
Show Me A Hero premieres August 16 on HBO.