In Defense of Treme
by Erin Z. Bass
Last night, the third season of “Treme” premiered on HBO. I’ve seen every episode and was excited to once again immerse myself in New Orleans culture for an hour on Sunday night. The show’s opening sequence, set to John Boutte’s “The Treme Song,” is enough of a reason to watch.
I also followed the tweets last night from lots of other people who were excited to see the show back on. The premiere was competing with the Emmys, so tweets were probably slimmer than usual, but the viewers who are tweeting “get” what producer David Simon is trying to do.
“If you’re not watching Treme you’re missing out on a truly important show. One of the most relevant and immediate dramas on television,” tweeted John Gallagher Jr., a Tony Award-winning actor/singer/songwriter in New York City.
Southern Gooner tweeted: “But whatever, awards shows are stupid. We all should have probably been watching “Treme” instead.”
Also floating through the Twitter feed last night was an article from Entertainment Weekly titled “‘Treme’ season premiere: In defense of HBO’s little-watched Katrina drama.” The piece by Darren Franich ponders why more people aren’t watching “Treme” and whether the show ever had a chance to get out from under the shadow of Simon’s previous drama “The Wire.”
The answer to that last question is probably no, but, as Franich points out, “Treme” is an entirely different show. For those viewers looking for a a tightly wound plot with episodes that wrap everything up in a nice little package, this isn’t the show for you. But for viewers looking for a beautiful – and very real – portrait of a moment in New Orleans history, “Treme” is the answer. (It’s also the answer for music lovers and fans of Bravo’s “Top Chef.”)
HBO has announced that the show will run for one more season and will conclude with four to six episodes probably next fall. For those who have yet to see the show, especially New Orleanians, this will be an opportunity to watch all four seasons and experience all the sights, sounds and tastes of “Treme” at once. It won’t be too late. In fact, it’ll never be too late to watch “Treme.”
As Franich writes at the end of his EW piece, “Treme is the rare show which consistently strives to do little more than present the way we live now.” Even most locals will attest that the portrait “Treme” paints of post-Katrina New Orleans is accurate. It’s heartbreaking, bloody, loud and filled with eccentric characters, but for the most part it’s real.
“Treme” and David Simon have captured one of America’s great cities during a time that will forever be etched into the history of Louisiana and the country. Other cities can only hope to be so lucky to have Simon travel to their town next.