Monday, June 21, 2010

And Treme's First Season Comes to an End...

Posted By on Mon, Jun 21, 2010 at 5:49 AM

Treme's first season came to a whirlwind end tonight. I don't want to give away any spoilers for those who haven't seen it, so I'd like to just touch on a topic that's been looming over this season: how is the rest of the country taking this show? New Orleanians are certainly pleased with David Simon's work, and while I'm admittedly biased in favor of the show (I think it's fantastic), I've had my doubts about its ability to hold a national audience.


click to enlarge NYMag sucks


I fear that the show is failing in this endeavor. Take for instance, the rumblings online that the only reason there aren't more criticisms of this show is because it's taboo to criticize New Orleans. Or that, in spite of that claim, criticisms about the show abound (even tangentially). Or, worse yet, that when New York Magazine can't even take the time to get the musicians right in their episode recaps (see above). For the record, it was Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews, not "Tuscon", that referred Antoine to Allen Toussaint. Anyone at the Big Apple's signature magazine ever heard of fact checking? The fact that Toussaint appeared (and was named) in earlier episodes makes you wonder if they could find anyone at who would watch the entire season.


David Simon has said explicitly that this show is his attempt to get New Orleans right for the people that live here. And therein may lie the problem. God knows not everyone can live in New Orleans - you either completely love it and are invested in it or see its value in not much more than a great place to drink on vacation. People who live here watch Treme and are instantly satisfied by its dead-on portrayal of the people, places, characters, music and magical moments that make up New Orleans. But what is someone in Chicago or New York or Los Angeles going to think when they see Big Chief Lambreaux and his tribe emerging from their workshop on St. Joseph's Day. Hell, how many people outside of New Orleans (that aren't Catholic) even know the significance of St. Joseph's Day?


It's the double-edged sword of New Orleans. I have friends who love coming down here for Mardi Gras or Halloween or Jazz Fest, but when I talk to them about the importance of, say, TBC getting told they can't play at Bourbon and Canal, I get blank expressions. There's a real side of New Orleans that you see by living here and the character of New Orleans the people see on television or film or in tourist-heavy times. How to make it appeal to everyone at the same time? Maybe it's just not possible.


All that said, who gives a damn what the rest of the country thinks? That first season was awesome and I can't wait for the second. Thanks, David Simon. I tell people living in New Orleans is like living in a movie, it's nice to have that thought reinforced through a truly masterful television series.

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