Televisionist: Another take on 'Treme' | Rock Candy

Monday, May 17, 2010

Televisionist: Another take on 'Treme'

Posted By on Mon, May 17, 2010 at 4:55 PM

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New contributor John Earney took issue with my critique of "Treme" last week, and fired back this retort.

I have no clue how it can even be suggested that “Treme” is not rife with the finger-snapping, cigarette-break-inducing, intense dramatic edge that David Simon has become known for — character-driven shows about the America we don't care to think about. Sure, we all know that Katrina was terrible and the policy was ridiculous and George Bush hated black people, but saying that David Simon can't find drama in this situation is like saying a hand-drawn cartoon about the Holocaust isn't Oscar bait.

Simon succeeds in zeroing in on this type of devastation and personalizing it — whether it's a Mardi Gras chief trying to find and accommodate his tribe or a talented chef struggling to keep her restaurant afloat, it's the human element that keeps “Treme” afloat.

Putting a city as culturally unique and rich as New Orleans under the microscope does tend to have an alienating effect on the viewer, which, as Lindsey put it, can “sometimes make you feel bad for not knowing what's up.” I think this actually makes “Treme” that much more powerful — you're not told to feel guilty, but you do. It's mind boggling that some of these characters are able to keep going after Katrina, but what allows them to forge ahead is exactly what “Treme” is about.

In “Treme,” Simon explores the cement that held New Orleans together, and not surprisingly, the answer is the culture — specifically the music. The music numbers are long, but effective. Watching a show about New Orleans that brushes over the music would be like taking a drive-by tour of the Grand Canyon. That's not to say I dig all of the music; I'm not crazy about most of the songs Sonny (Michiel Huisman) plays, but after all, he's this season's Pete Campbell.

John Earney

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