Sunday, May 1, 2011

Treme [some spoilers] - post apocalyptic?

From the creators of The Wire, comes Treme set three months after Hurricane Katrina nearly destroyed New Orleans (with many of the same actors, a few surprisingly cast against type).  As in The Wire some of the sexual allusions are difficult to cope with but there is less violence. Similar to Generation Kill, it's a shorter series and like Generation Kill (second invasion of Iraq) more of a snapshot of a significant period (post Katrina) rather than an extended exploration of a location (the city of Baltimore).

Again the central device is following several loosely connected stories that, while quite different, explore similar themes. One of the themes seems to be living in a post-apocalyptic landscape (patrolling National Guard units, the abandoned cars, the broken houses and damaged societal fabric): who survives, who thrives and who succumbs.  On the one hand, Jeanette the restaurant owning chef is defeated by the broken city, closing up and leaving for New York on the other hand Davis the musician thrives, partly because of his joie de vivre, and willingness to embrace the chaos of the broken city.

I wonder where David Simon will go next? The Wire so powerfully explored the broken dynamics of institutions.  While Generation Kill and Treme were great snapshots of important periods in recent American history, the first serious the second relatively more lighthearted.  Strangely I also like each of the show's inconsistencies (although Generation Kill was the least like this, in this regard).  For example in The Wire a few of the subplots were boring and fairly immaterial narratively or thematically. It's the same in Treme, for example the professor Creighton's lectures are cringingly [sp] lightweight given the pathos of his particular story.  But I like this because it's emblematic of our fallen condition, a funny mixture banal normality and intensity and beauty.