The summer is over and with it goes all the great summer shows like Breaking Bad and True Blood ... but in return we get all the new fall programming including Treme, which is back for its third season on HBO. It's one of those shows that is very polarizing. People around New Orleans either love it or they hate it. More often than not, if I mention it, I get eye rolls. Even my friends who worship at the altar of The Wire and David Simon say that the show is slow and boring. Too many musical numbers, not enough plot. At the beginning of the second season I noticed that Anthony Bourdain was going to be doing a bit of writing and it made me think that Treme would suddenly be filled with snarky and witty banter, like in his books and shows. But I was wrong. The second season was pretty "meh". I wondered if I was even going to watch the third season ... Sundays are so packed with good shows. Boardwalk Empire, Once Upon A Time ... Revenge (don't judge). Can I watch Treme too? Again? Give it another chance? Well ... I've been watching it and enjoying it so far ... but I never know if I'm actually liking it, or if I feel like I should like it. Because it is New Orleans. I'm not sure if I enjoy the story, or if I just enjoy seeing some of the places I hang out at on TV.
Here are some things I've been wondering about Treme:
1. How does Treme get renewed for a fourth season before the third even airs and the far superior Deadwood was cancelled after three seasons and a horribly depressing ending? I'M STILL BITTER HBO!
2. Can people who have never lived in New Orleans, or visited New Orleans (or even just read Anne Rice's novels) understand what's going on in this show? There are so many obscure references every week that I have a hard time believing that if you don't do your research, you're going to get much out of this show. And I'm not saying that research can't be fun. I always enjoy reading Dave Walker's blog "Treme Explained" on nola.com the day after an episode airs. Actually, I enjoy it so much that I think it might be the only reason I still watch this show. It's such a great read. I've learned a ton about the city of New Orleans from his blog and it opens up the story in ways that would probably never open for me otherwise. But should a show require homework to understand its nuances? Don't get me wrong, if I love a show I will quite happily google everything about it. I learned all about mobsters Lucky Luciano and Meyer Lansky from being inspired by my love for Boardwalk Empire, but it wasn't necessary that I do that to understand what's going on in the story. I have a feeling that if I didn't live in New Orleans or have a special love for the city, a lot of Treme would just go right over my head.
3. If you don't watch Top Chef and Top Chef Masters, would you still be able to follow what's going on in Janette's life? You can always tell when a real-life famous chef appears on Treme because they can't act. That would be one clue. But unless you're obsessed with food or are a chef, you're not going to know who Eric Ripert and Tom Colicchio are if you don't watch cooking shows. So not only does this show have homework, it also has prerequisites.
4. Can Khandi Alexander please get a Golden Globe nomination? Aside from the music, Treme doesn't get much love at the Emmys or Golden Globes, which is sad because there are some pretty great performances. Khandi Alexander (LaDonna) is amazing in every scene she's in. She deserves all of the Emmys. Well, her and Bryan Cranston.
5. Can Barry the Bellboy from True Blood please use his mind-reading abilities for his new job as a reporter on Treme? It will make things go a lot faster. Seriously. The show spent five minutes in the latest episode showing him shuffling through files. That's it. Shuffling files. Faaaascinating.
6. Can Treme please make fun of a different side of town next week? This week The Marigny was "gay" and last week "Bywater" was synonymous with "dirty hippies". Seriously, I don't mind the jabs at The Marigny/Bywater ... I mean, there are some funny things about this end of town (like those weird tall bikes, just for starters), but let's make this equal opportunity. Next week let's make fun of the Irish Channel.
7. How many kids does Antoine Batiste actually have? The show has never really said exactly. He has his two boys with LaDonna and a daughter with Desiree. In the first season LaDonna says she'll tell the boys they have a new baby sister and then emphasises "another one". So that makes four so far. Then along the way we see Antoine come across a young man at a parade who also called him "daddy", gave him a hug and asked Antoine to come by and see him and his sister sometime. So that's six? Maybe? Also, can he stop cheating on Desiree? Because I want to like Antoine. He's hilarious. He's actually one of the only people on this show with a sense of humor. The incredulous look he gave his son after he expressed interest in becoming a DJ (instead of playing a jazz instrument, like his dad), was the best part of the episode for me. Wendell Pierce is great.
8. When is Davis' Aunt Mimi coming back? Because she's the best. I love watching her interact with New Orleans rappers. Actually, she should just get her own spin-off. The Aunt Mimi and Big Freedia show.
9. Can Toni Bernette and Detective Colson get together, fall in love, and fight corruption and crime in New Orleans? I love a happy ending.
10. Can HBO bring back Deadwood? That would be great. Thanks.