This Sunday HBO debuts their new series “Treme,” from “The Wire” creator David Simon. Filmed entirely in New Orleans and set three months after Hurricane Katrina and the Federal Flood, it tells the story of life and recovery in the city through the eyes of musicans and cooks. I may never have been so excited about a TV show in my life. (Okay, “Battlestar Galactica” and “Caprica” notwithstanding, and the only other good New Orleans portrayal “Frank’s Place” from the ’80s.)
Let’s watch the “Making of Treme” featurette and some clips — this first trailer actually made my scalp tingle:
If this is good as I think it’ll be, it’ll wipe the stain of “The Big Easy” from onscreen portrayals of New Orleans culture — that movie had me almost physically transforming into Ignatius Reilly at the Prytania, standing up and shrieking, “What degenerate produced this abortion?!” They’ve got local actors and local writers working on it. They got John Boutté’s “Treme Song” as the show’s theme song (which I knew was an absolute must from the moment I heard about the project; either my thought beams went out into the ether, or those folks really know what they’re doing), which means a lot of national exposure for the best singer in the city. John Goodman’s character is partially based on the late, great Ashley Morris in his passionate railing against the injustice of the greatest engineering disaster in American history. They really seem to be doing it right.
That they’re even going be mentioning, plus actually depicting and portraying, the Mardi Gras Indian culture and doing it with respect and a fair amount of accuracy is astonishing. There was a great interview on NPR this morning with David Simon actor Clarke Peters, who portrays an Indian big chief named Albert Lambreaux, in which they amusingly recount how some Indian traditions are so secret and sacred that their local paid advisors from some of the Indian gangs would keep some things close: “Oh sorry, we can’t tell you that.”
We get a feature-length premiere this Sunday. You simply must tune in.