Really is very good, and I'll admit part of what I like is its realism. I can buy that some parts of some American cities are that crap (it seems more likely during the 80's and early 90's though).
But, that doesn't mean that we know exactly what we should learn from it, and it's clear that we're supposed to learn a lot. I've only seen the first season, but I have read this pretentious, but interesting wikipedia entry and show's creator tells us that it's
a meditation on the death of work and the betrayal of the American working class.…[I]t is a deliberate argument that unencumbered capitalism is not a substitute for social policy; that on its own, without a social compact, raw capitalism is destined to serve the few at the expense of the many.
Deep shit man. Though I wonder about trying to show so much by focusing on the most extreme part of a poor, dying city. But let's say we're ok with that, what does the show tell us?
- that the criminal justice system is dysfunctional
- the war on drugs is unjust and ruthless
- the Iraq war sucks (jesus)
- not only are politicians corrupt, but that politics is inherently corrupting
- the school system is broken (and kids are educated outside of school too).
So we devastate capitalism by moaning about the institutions that have nothing to do with capitalism.
The show is pretty effective in showing the power of capitalism. The search for profit drives the creation of institutions that transform semi-literate thugs into extremely competent workers and the messed up incentives of the justice system transforms highly educated professionals into cynics trying to game the system to their own advantage.