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HBO’s Treme and the F-Bomb Squadron

I must confess that the original version of this article was not very complementary to this series. Although I am from here and live here I found that some of the elements of Treme to be, well, a little annoying to say the least.

We rented the first season from Netflix as we don’t have HBO and after hearing so much about it was eager to see how they depicted the city especially after Katrina. My 97 year old mom and I went through all four disks of the series one right after the other.

The first thing that struck me was the constant and almost annoying use of the f-word. I mean, I use it from time to time when I am really pissed off, like slamming a hammer onto my thumb, or getting a freaking plumbing snake stuck down a drainpipe and getting black disgusting drainpipe sludge all over the bathroom and my clothes. I mean those are the useful times to send out a violent slew of f-bombs. (Jumping up and down like a child in a temper tantrum helps too.)

But the almost constant use of the word by almost everyone in the show is just a little too much. I mean come on. I live in New Orleans and, yeah, people do use the f-word on occasion. But not like on this program. It’s mostly college students walking up and down our street late at night after a bout of drinking.

I mean I think it just gets tiring after a while. And yeah we get it. It’s hip and cool. With the freedom of cable TV f-bombs are now the cool thing. The series would have you think that everyone peppers their everyday language with f-bombs. Yes, I hear it occasionally. But continually and ubiquitously as depicted in this series? No.

I’m harping on this because, yes, there were a lot people pissed off after Katrina. Myself included. How the city was treated by the national news media and some idiotic politicians suggesting that we shouldn’t rebuild made our blood boil. Along with the incredible incompetence and of the Corps of Engineers …well, don’t get me started.

I know people were angry after Katrina, some more than others depending of course on your situation and where you were in the city. Still even during those times you came across people just trying to cope and maintain some manner of decorum and class.

Heck, many reactions to the absurdity of it all, from all the government incompetence from the federal level on down, was laughter and a knowing shake of a head. This does not take away from the horrible situations people found themselves in. Anyone who took a drive to the lower ninth ward after the storm felt the tragedy of all those people losing their homes as a literal punch in the gut.

Anyway, after watching the first few episodes we were getting so tired of all the angry people that we almost cancelled the rest of the DVDs. But we had one episode to go on the second disk and by the time that was finished, well, we were hooked. Dangit.

The characters, many despicable in some ways, are all lovable and if you lived through Katrina you can really get their anguish and the reason for all the anger.

The producers decision to include a lot of our world class home grown musical and acting talent is wise and brilliant. I find powerful and moving the opening credit sequence with the Treme theme song [shown above] showing hurricane footage of rushing water inundating homes, and the little “still-lifes” of black and rainbow colored mold climbing walls. The song itself is of the city: full of life, drive and purpose.

The depiction of our town with all its quirks, beauty, corruption, life and romance I find to be amazingly accurate. And really puts New Orleans on full display as much as a TV series can. The producers get it, that elusive, nearly indescribable quality that makes up the uniqueness of this place. In truth, descriptions are futile. It has to be experienced. Treme gives you as much of that experience as possible.

I like the way the producers have included all social ranks and races of the city without apology, judgment or pandering. Everyone is tragically flawed and they all know it, which makes this such an engaging and addictive series. Like a good book you gotta keep turning the pages and you just can’t put it down.

Treme is probably the truest depiction of the Crescent City since that old and wonderful but short-lived series Frank’s Place. I get goosebumps when I think of that show. Each half hour was like a little gem of a movie and although not filmed here the producers on that show really got New Orleans in all its quirkiness and customs and delight. (The star of that show actually has a bit part as a judge in Treme. Nice that Treme included him in the series.)

So we are looking forward to the DVD release of season 2, f-bombs and all. Don’t get me wrong I’m not averse to f-bombs when called for. I mean how funny would My Cousin Vinny be without them?

Posted in Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans Culture, New Orleans History, New Orleans Life, New Orleans Music, New Orleans Videos.

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