Let’s talk about not only the most important TV series you’re not watching, but also the most entertaining and rewarding. It’s called Treme, (pronounced Truh-MAY) and its first season aired on HBO last year, but hardly anybody tuned in, including, it must be admitted, the writer of this piece. Well, I did watch the first three episodes, and while I liked the idea of Treme, something about it didn’t quite grab me enough to keep me tuning in. Once I was blind and now I can see.
Treme, from David Simon and Eric Overmyer (who previously worked with Simon on The Wire and Homicide: Life on the Street), deals with the city of New Orleans three months after Katrina. It’s about how various citizens attempt, against the odds, to reclaim their home and start again. If that sounds at all dreary, let me tell you, it most certainly is not. Here’s a series that’s filled with equal amounts of joy and heartbreak. A character may experience a profound sense of despair, only to turn around and learn how to live again. The aftermath of the hurricane and the subsequent flooding of the city is merely a backdrop to draw rich, layered characters that quickly begin to feel like neighbors you know and love.
In many ways it reminds me of the rich tapestry Armistead Maupin accomplished with his Tales of the City series back in the 70s and 80s, only that was through prose (although eventually miniseries were made from his first three books). Maupin’s Tales have become integral reading for those who live in San Francisco, and in time the denizens of New Orleans will feel the same about Treme, assuming they don’t already.
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