Monday 20 June 2011


I’ve probably watched more television drama this year than in the past decade or more. But then again, I’ve been spoilt by what’s been on. First there was The Killing, the best thing, apart from folk music, to come out of Denmark, with some superb acting and writing. Then there was the discovery of Nurse Jackie. Billed as comedy, perhaps, but so much more. Then Spiral, the very tough French crime drama.

And now my new love is Treme. Set in post-Katrina New Orleans, it’s a beautifully crafted, very human show. And, of course, there’s plenty of that irresistible New Orleans music and cooking to spice it all up. Thanks to Lovefilm I’m catching up with season one, and enjoying every second. As a drama it does several unconventional things. The focus is on people rather than plot, a very refreshing change. And it’s people who are generally out on the margins rather than those with power. It’s also very rare inasmuch as most of the main characters are black and presented in a very three-dimensional way, not cheaply stereotyped.

The show’s evidently been panned (at least in the first season) for its lack of plot, but that’s part of its power. For most people there’s no straight line plot to life, and that makes it far more true to life. We’re usually made up of small incidents, and in this case, the big one, the hurricane, is always there as the backdrop, affecting the lives of everyone.

It also stands out as a superbly political show, sometimes explicitly, as in John Goodman’s character, and more often implicitly, as in the actions of the police, or the reportage of prison inmates left on the bridge without water, or finding another body. The show brings an awareness of the way the rich and the politicians have been trying to sell out the poor of New Orleans, sometimes quite literally, and the way the Bush administration failed so abysmally in its duties (no real surprise there). It’s a beautiful, unique city, unlike anywhere else in America. To see it portrayed with such honesty, as well as with such compassion, is a joy. It’s also some of the very best television around, and that’s something we need.


  1. I too have found Treme to be exceptional TV.
    Working with musicians - I find the musician
    s point of view to be most sympathetically realized. It is riveting and a true commentary on the aftermath of Katrina.

  2. I have a friend and neighbour who lived near the Treme for 9 years and who says the show is perfect, spot on in its depiction of life there. She says the musicians are real New Orleans musicians and the radio station is a real one. She should know, as she hosts a jazz show on the local NPR station (KMUN, Astoria, Oregon). It was quite a coup to be the one to introduce her to Treme, the show!

  3. P.S. If you ever wonder why more people don't comment on your blog, it is NOT easy, and I am pretty darn computer savvy. I think Wordpress makes it easier to get comments.