tongue-tied lightning

Blogging Treme: Episodes 5 & 6 “Shame, Shame, Shame” and “Shallow Water, Oh Mama”
May 17, 2010, 10:08 AM
Filed under: misc | Tags: , , ,

The biggest development these last two weeks has been DJ Davis launching his political campaign.  What started out looking like a pisstake is, well, still a pisstake but one that he’s actually pursuing in a serious manner.  He ends up on a local news station engaging in a debate with other candidates laying out his plans for “Greased Palm Sunday” and his “Pot for Potholes” program.  Whether or not he has any hope as a politician, and he doesn’t, you have to admire his wit and ability to turn a phrase.

That this is the biggest development belies something that’s become a criticism of Treme.  That it lacks plot elements, that nothing happens, that every week is more of the same.  I’m not sure I agree with this, certainly alot happens; Jeanette has to close her restaurant, LaDonna’s brother continues to elude her lawyer, Sonny and Annie’s relationship is building to a head.  The difference is they are realistic plot elements, stripped down beyond even the level The Wire was, not the typical overplotting we’ve come to expect from television shows.  To claim that nothing happens on Treme is to claim nothing happens in real life.

At the halfway point, the show’s thesis seems to be that culture is what keeps us going.  When times are tough and things get fucked up, getting together with others and taking in a jazz gig at a bar or attending a parade or participating in a second line can be enough to see us through.  It may be a simple theme and there is certainly alot more going on underneath that, but that seems to be the crux of the show.  Simple as it may be it’s a theme I agree with, I find solace in music, in film, in art, and in coming together with other people to celebrate these things.  We are a culture becoming to some extent disillusioned with religion, but heaven is right in front of us, in each other.

There are plenty of other things to note.  To touch on the previous discussion regarding the show being unkind to outsiders, it was nice to see a Japanese man buy Antoine a new horn and reveal that he knew as much if not more about New Orleans culture than Antoine did.  Of course, by making the character a foreigner, there is also the sly ‘he understands American culture better than most Americans do!’ nod going on.  It was also cool to see Davis’s neighbors bring him in when he passed out drunk in front of their house, bearing no ill will towards him despite how he’s treated them in the past.

Favorite scenes?  In episode 5, Davis criticizing the Bush adminstration with an all-star cast of New Orleans musicians in tow.  This week?  How can I not say the Krewe du Vieux parade?  It’s interesting to see we’re already into Mardi Gras season, as many assumed that would be the seasons climax.  It looks like that won’t be the case with Fat Tuesday only about a month away.


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