I knew I liked this show a lot, but I don’t think I knew how much until about halfway through the Season Two opener. It was nothing in particular that set me off, more a feeling that I had missed these characters, that I was glad to have them back, and that I looked forward to their further adventures.
Of course, Treme’s detractors will take issue with my use of the word “adventures.” Treme is not particularly plot-driven. It’s a character study, it’s a picture of a specific time and (especially) place, and it’s a show with lots and lots of music. It is at its worst when characters get on soapboxes, but even that is tolerable because everything else works so well. Everyone will have their own favorite characters, but most of the other characters are interesting in their own right, so almost every scene is good, even though nothing “happens” most of the time.
I have never been to New Orleans, so I can only guess whether the show gets the city right. But it feels accurate. Dave Walker of the New Orleans Times-Picayune is once again doing his weekly “Treme explained” columns. He provides the kind of information you might get as an extra on a DVD … he’ll tell you what that restaurant was and who this musician is and why those chickens are wandering around.
Treme has great heart, and while post-Katrina New Orleans isn’t much better than Wire-era Baltimore, Treme offers a kind of hopefulness The Wire lacked. You get the feeling that these characters will mostly survive. And the music will always bring joy.