Other than it being a great idea for a TV show, we figured David “The Decline of the American Empire” Simon decided to set Treme in New Orleans during the months after Katrina because it was the only way he could out-bleak The Wire (he also stopped in between to make a mini-series about the invasion of Iraq). But we may have been totally wrong! Halfway through Wyatt Mason’s Treme piece in The New York Times Magazine is this hard-to-believe bit:
[B]ecause so many of [The Wire’s] story lines dramatized the futility of any of these characters’ attempts to break through social and economic ceilings, the image of contemporary urban America that the show offered was one in which character wasn’t fate so much as a fait accompli: in the land of the free market, Simon was arguing, free will wasn’t going to get you very far. In “Treme,” Simon seems to be arguing for the very opposite idea: the triumph of the individual will despite all impediments, a show about people, artists for the most part, whose daily lives depend upon the free exercise of their wills to create — out of nothing, out of moments — something beautiful.
Wait — is Treme going to be sort of fun to watch? And not in a “see Jimmy McNulty self-destruct” kind of way, but in a straightforward, uplifting kind of way? These Treme trailers suggest that somewhat, but we assumed the producers just plucked out all the happy-looking stuff from the first season. The guy who once described most mainstream entertainment as “it’s like, ‘Can you tell me another bedtime story about how people are special and every one of us matters? Can you tell me that shit?’” probably hasn’t gone soft exactly, but Treme sounds like it could be, for better or worse, a little easier to swallow. Maybe that means that this time around, unlike with The Wire, Simon won’t have to fight for renewal after every season?
The HBO Auteur [NYT]