Michael Newman has an excellent article on television and cultural legitimacy here (thanks to Girish for pointing it out). As we celebrate the "erasure" of high-low biases, and the acceptance of television, are we really just plowing over another hierarchical social mapping in the process?
Aesthetically speaking. There's one scene where a character named Bubbles, a heroin junkie, is thinking about going clean. As he sits on a park bench there are shots of sunlight through tree leaves; birds chirping. This is where The Wire is at its lowest--when its stylistic choices seem, not inappropriate, but borrowed. It's not organic to the style of the show in any way, it's just something the director or DP thought up because he wanted to show the inviting freshness of a drug-free life; it's like a slick commercial, but a little subtler. Where The Wire is at its best is maybe in its presentation of Omar (Michael K. Williams), a humanized spin on the Badass Motherfucker routine, who in small moments and an admirable seamlessness between performance, writing, and camerawork reveals a deep capacity for love, an adherence to codes ("I've done some dirt, but I never shot anybody who wasn't in the game"), and in his love (the pale boy in the photo below is his lover) and his work (he puts on a show for us viewers whenever he's out to use the guns) he exhibits a taste for beauty. Neither perfect nor "clean," his budding strength is one that is alternative to the system that The Wire depicts and (to an extent) critiques. He indicates something of what might step up if the sociopolitical system presented were actually, amazingly, to start to crumble. He's not a street criminal because he's an underbelly capitalist (like most movie & tv gangsters); and neither is he Robin Hood, mind you; he's a survivalist and he is a certain figuration of potential. It will be interesting to see where this all goes. "I'm hooked."