Looking to recreate the feelings of confusion and regret that are part of any Comcast package, the nation’s largest provider of cable and the rage that leads to all wars recently launched a contest to “Live Like McNulty,” offering fans of The Wire the chance to walk the crime-ridden streets of Baltimore, all for fun. It’s part of Xfinity Watchathon Week, in which Comcast partnered with vacation rental service Airbnb to send fans to homes that were temporarily made into recreations of their favorite programs—a 1920s casino for Boardwalk Empire, a Dothraki tent from Game Of Thrones. There, after all that expense, they will sit and watch episodes of a show they’ve already seen. It is also an incredibly lifelike recreation of the experience of having cable.
For one lucky Wire viewer who wanted to experience the world of institutional failure for themselves, rather than simply directing them to the Comcast customer service line, Comcast offered an “all expenses paid” chance to “stake out like Detective Jimmy McNulty” in a Baltimore apartment. While it doesn’t explicitly mention engaging in destructive alcoholic stupors, putting other people in danger, or manipulating things toward your own selfish ends, the ad does suggest you “let the sound of police sirens lull you to sleep.” So once again, Comcast has properly captured the nature of sociopathic behavior and the futility of giving a shit.
Although contest ads used a photo of a dilapidated Baltimore street as its tourist attraction—where the sounds of genuine homicides provide even more exciting authenticity—Baltimore’s City Paper pointed out that the address in the listing is actually in the much nicer Mount Vernon neighborhood. This makes the entire enterprise even more the work of, in the words of City Paper and anyone who’s ever spoken to them, the “condescending assholes” at Comcast.
Perhaps realizing, just this one time, that being condescending assholes reflects poorly on its company, Comcast has quietly removed the listing from Airbnb. Meanwhile, the contest page still lists The Wire as one of the destinations, though it’s the only one of the three shows not included in the photo and video wrap-ups.
Hoping to clarify why the listing has been removed, we’ve phoned Comcast. We expect to be taken off hold sometime next week.