Louis Theroux: Law and Disorder in Philadelphia


A 2008 documentary by legendary British filmmaker Louis Theroux in which he heads to Philadelphia to follow the Philadelphia Police Department as they patrol one of the most dangerous parts of the most dangerous metropolitan city in America. The city sees 400 homicides per year, most of them gang related and most carried out with firearms.

The BBC would only allow the documentary to take place on the condition that Theroux wore a bullet proof vest which was so thick that Theroux couldn’t wear a seat belt in the patrol car.

Philadelphia is of course famous for being the setting of the HBO drama series The Wire, and this documentary showed that the situation in the city had far from been exaggerated in the fictional series. In fact, if anything it had been understated. Or to quote the exact words of The Independent:

“It was a fascinating film, though, in part because of the utter dereliction of this particular patch of the inner city, but also because it confirmed that The Wire had, if anything, understated its portrait of civil breakdown.”

This documentary was part of a three part series which saw Theroux explore violent crime in three different world cities, see also:

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