Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A note on HBO's Treme

HBO is absolutely killing it right now with The Pacific and Treme, two shows I've enjoyed as much as any I've ever seen.  I have two observations about Treme that I want to share and hopefully get some feedback on.  First, I have an overwhelming sense of foreboding in nearly every scene of every episode.  It feels like all hell is about to break loose at any moment.  I'm pretty sure that's intentional. If so, well done, David Simon.  The suspense adds to the edginess of post-Katrina New Orleans, and wears on the viewer in a way that makes you appreciate the grittiness of life there at that time. 

The second observation is grounded in the first, and, according to my NOLA-based friends, has been floated as rumor around the city ever since these two characters appeared in Episode 2.  Are Annie and Sonny, the street musicians, bound to be the fictionalized version of Addie Hall and Zackery Bowen?  In one of the most gruesome homicides I know of, Zackery Bowen strangled his girlfriend, Addie Hall, and then proceeded to dismember and cook her remains.  Zackery was a worthless layabout, and seems to mirror Sonny in some ways.  Zackery and Addie actually did "rough it" in the French Quarter immediately after the storm, as Sonny loves to tell everyone he and Annie did.  In real life, Addie flashed the police to get them to stick around, providing extra protection for her area.  In Treme, Sonny tells of how Annie did the same.

There are differences between Zackery and Sonny, and certainly between Annie and Addie, however, that might mean we're not about to witness a rather shocking and horrifying twist to Treme.  Zackery and Addie were bartenders, while Sonny and Annie are musicians.  (NOLA tip: Zackery tended bar at Buffa's, which serves a mean breakfast.)  Zackery was from L.A., while Sonny's Dutch.  Addie had a bit of a drug problem and a quick temper, while Annie seems to be a rather calm and nice straight arrow.  In the end, there certainly are more differences than similarities.  But I can't help getting that feeling this will end terribly for Annie.  I, for one, hope that Annie strangles and cooks Sonny, as he's easily my least favorite character on TV.  I guess we'll watch and see.

P.S. - Here's the Times-Pic's blog on Treme.


Dave Carner said...

Been a lot of debate amongst my NOLA group of friends as to whether Annie ends up 'girlfriend gumbo.' Seems to be a lot pointing in that direction, though after episode 4 it seemed as if they were more based on Anders Osbourne and Theresa Anderson than Bowden & Hall. That said I'm sure they are cobbling together the bios they are basing the characters on, so those aren't necessarily mutually exclusive plot lines.

guthriefirm said...

The Pacific is not near as good as Band of Brothers, as much as it hurts to admit it. I've read the two books on which it is based (Leckie's and Sledge's), and Basilone is legendary in the Marine Corps, but unfortunately these otherwise excellent producers couldn't get it to flow near as well as BofB, in my opinion.

And Treme is great, if they'll keep the Bush-bashing in check. Seems to me there were some "more local" leaders that the characters could rail about as well. The lady plays a mean fiddle. I hope she makes it.

Delta said...

As far as the Bush bashing goes, remember the time frame. At that time, the Bush bashing was the order of the day. Remember that Nagin was popular enough to be re-elected and Blanco's warts hadn't been exposed yet. One of the iconic photos from the aftermath was Bush flying over the destruction in his cocoon of Air Force One, so the Bush bashing is true to life in that respect. Also remember that the John Goodman character is based on Ashley Morris, so his personal views take center stage at times through Creighton Burnette.

Jax said...

I agree with you, DC. Simon is using a little bit of several real life new orleans in constructing the Annie and Sonny characters. Simon even said somewhere that part of Bautiste's character was based upon Kermit Ruffins.

Let's hope that the Sonny /Annie story doesn't take the same road as the Zach/Addie real life story took. Would be almost pornographic and really unnecessary and cheap even though it would be following to a T what actually happened.

One of my favorite "underdog" storylines is that of Albert Lambreaux's son, Delmond. He gives us a great counter-balance to the "everything is great about New Orleans" characters.

All in all, I have been happy with the show and, had I not watched The Wire, I might have thought this one to be damn good. However, after watching The Wire, my expectations were so high that I have been just a little disappointed with aspects of Treme, mainly its tendency to be a little preachy. Got a long way to go with the series though, and I have a lot of faith in Simon to bring it through.

Kingfish said...

Nagin wasn't popular enough to be reelected. The field was THAT week and Landrieau ran a REALLY REALLY poor campaign that was Coakley-esque in its tone and tactics.

Keep in mind many people didn't want the Landrieau machine back in and judging by some of his appointments already, can't blame them. Wish Fieklow had run, he would've been great.