Last night HBO’s Treme returned to Sky Atlantic with a second series following the lives of those affected by Hurricane Katrina.
I wasn’t overly interested in watching the first series of Treme when it aired on Sky Atlantic last year, but I caught episode 1 and found myself intrigued by the lives of the characters in the show. It began slowly and with no real big storyline, but week after week I kept coming back. Treme is different to the most of HBO’s other shows. It’s not bombastic; it doesn’t have big stories or huge character arcs like shows such as The Borgias. Instead it just follows the tiny details of the lives of people. It watches them in an almost voyeuristic way as they go about their day and deal with the highs, the lows, the joy, the sadness and the despair – which makes it so rich in character.
Treme follows the lives of a load of different characters in different walks of life and with different problems, but all with two things in common – they all have a passionate love for jazz and a despairing feeling of loss after Hurricane Katrina. Despite all these characters being so different, they are all in the same boat. Whether they lost their house, their business, their family or their favourite bar these characters share the feeling of despair that fills their streets despite the air being filled with the sound of beautiful music.
Series 2 began with a typically slow burning episode that caught us up with the characters 7 months after we left them. It got us reacquainted with their situations with little or nothing having changed in the city or their own lives. In some episodes, like last night’s, it does feel at times that not a lot happens. But it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t feel boring. You can see the struggles of these people’s lives in their every movement, line of dialogue or glance across a room. They could all stand perfectly still and their faces would tell us a story.
For fans of shows like The Wire that slowly chip away at stories with subtlety Treme is a must. If your telebox taste buds prefer action, plot and big drama then this may just bore you. For me, it’s a show that is fantastically written and an incredible watch. Get yourself down to the Treme.
This article was first posted on September 3, 2011