Tonight at 9 on HBO
Critics' Choice: Treme earns praise for fictional look at New Orleans afterKatrina
The HBO drama, Treme, premiering tonight at 9, is earning high praise. Critics who saw a preview of the first episode are enthusiastic about the new series set in New Orleans three months after flooding from Hurricane Katrina devastated the city in 2005. "HBO's Treme finally gets' New Orleans right," blares the headline of a review in the New Orleans Times-Picayune. The series comes from David Simon and Eric Overmyer, who created The Wire for HBO — considered one of the greatest television dramas of all time.
Here's a sampling of reviews:
Time magazine -- "What really makes Treme special in its first few episodes are its recreations of New Orleans moments, especially musical ones. Not just the ones involving its numerous local guest musicians—from famous figures like Dr. John to more obscure ones like Cajun-Choctaw folk-blues guitarist Coco Robicheaux—which are shot with a you-are-there realism. When Kermit Ruffins blows his horn in a bar and you're watching from the floor, the scene feels so alive and hot and jostling that you half-expect someone to spill his beer on you. These aren't art-directed videos, they're music as part of life. And even more striking are the music scenes that involve, and are integral to the lives of, the central characters."
Los Angeles Times - "With Treme (which refers to a New Orleans neighborhood and is pronounced treh-MAY), Simon, co-creator Eric Overmyer and their team of writers (including the late, great David Mills) have proved that television as an art form cannot only rival Dickens, it can hold its own against Wagner. Full of the same complicated characters, crisscrossing story lines and well-informed immediacy that made The Wire one of the most astonishing shows on television, Treme flips the theme of urban decay and infuses it with music."
New York Times - "More than 1,600 people died as a result of Katrina, and three months later in these neighborhoods near the French Quarter there are still missing persons, brawls and bad feeling, as well as members of the National Guard on street patrol. But Treme is most of all a story about survival — and the pursuit of pleasure — in the wake of a catastrophe that quickly morphed into, as one character puts it, 'federally induced disaster.'"
New Orleans Time-Picayune - "This is the screen depiction that New Orleans deserves, has always desired, but has been denied.....The story and characters are drawn from life with exquisite, exacting detail. The music is joyous and mournful and rendered with affectionate fidelity. The performances are alternately comic and deeply dramatic."
But not everyone in New Orleans is satisfied with Treme. In a column in today's Times-Picayune, Simon acknowledged complaints about authenticity, but believes the series is true to the spirit of the city and its plight. He writes:
"If we are true to ourselves as dramatists, we will cheat and lie and pile one fraud upon the next, given that with every scene, we make fictional characters say and do things that were never said and done. And yet, if we are respectful of the historical reality of post-Katrina New Orleans, there are facts that must be referenced accurately as well. Some things, you just don't make up."