What is the best show in TV that you’re probably not watching right now? The answer would be “Treme”, a fictional drama set in the jazz scenes, restaurants and storm-ravaged wards of post Hurricane Katrina New Orleans. Here are five reasons why you should investigate this fine piece of television.
1) It’s an education on the human experience sub-stories of hurricane Katrina.
Yes, we’ve all seen the tragic images of the hundreds of homes that were demolished, and the thousands more that were displaced as a result. But what are the personal stories that it left in its wake? Treme shows us up close and personal what happened with angles such as the New Orleans restaurant industry, the cover-ups of jailed inmates, and the struggles of generations to maintain the tradition associated with Mardi Gras.
2) You’ll never think about New Orleans music the same way again.
Most of us think of New Orleans in the realm of Cajun and/or funeral and Carnival jazz. But there are goose-bump inducing moments of musical revelations in Treme; as a matter of fact, it has been well documented that David Simon went through great lengths to keep the music scene as authentic as possible. Viewers will see such eye opening names as Pine Leaf Boys, Dumpstaphunk, and The Barbeque Singers…but will also have the comfort of mainstream Neville Brothers performances. Real life regional music heroes are intertwined in the storylines (such as hometown celebrity Dr. John) , and there are a couple of websites dedicated to the music of the show—which flirts with an old school bluegrass sound at times..
3) Wendell Pierce
Wendell Pierce seems to make an indelible mark wherever he places his footprints. Most know him as Det. William ‘Bunk’ Moreland from “The Wire”, but he’s an accomplished movie veteran with many years under his belt, and it definitely shows here. Pierce plays trombone (which he call his “bone”) player Antoine Batiste, and is the embodiment of a true New Orleans jazz musician. He is also full of swagger, lies, liquor, and heart, all of which makes for probably the most complex and interesting character on the show. One reason for this is probably because Pierce was actually raised in the N.O., and has shared some of his real life heart-wrenching personal traumas and the effects of it on his family in interviews.
4) Paying Homage to the show’s co-creator David Mills
Treme was a labor of love for David Simon and its co-creator David Mills, both serious music lovers. David had previously written and/or produced a host of excellent TV drama; “Picket Fences”, ”NYPD Blue”, “ER”, “Kingpin”, and “The Wire”. But very importantly, he and his blog “Undercover Black Man” were a magnet to hugely intelligent, talented, and often hilarious Black internet community that, through him, found very like-minded folks that one might have not even known existed. It was a watering hole for all things music, pop-culture, and politics, which could sometimes turn into fierce heated debate, as family sometimes does. He passed away quite suddenly last year on the set of Treme, at 48, sending shockwaves through the entertainment industry. I can think of no better way to continue his quest and legacy of quality television than supporting this show. Oh, and in turn also supporting HBO, who far and away has the best programming on TV, bar none.
5) It Is Everything We’ve Been Asking For
Many people say they are unhappy with the state of Black television, or just the absence of recognition to Blacks, period, on the small screen. Treme is a quality Black program from top to bottom; fine acting, absorbing scripts, prime directing (from the likes of say, Ernest Dickerson), realistic storylines, authentic location, untouched subject matter, and good music. What more can you ask for really?