If filmmakers and television producers have their way, Hurricane Katrina and the subsequent flooding of New Orleans will never fade into the distant past. Every few months, a new project is announced that focuses either on Katrina itself, or more often the aftermath that the city is going through. However, HBO’s Treme is the first time I’ve actually felt like some compelling “dramatic entertainment” might have come out of it.

This hour long drama will premiere in April on HBO with an 80 minute pilot episode, and will run for 10 episodes during its first season, which star John Goodman, Steve Zahn, and Wendell Pierce, among others. The show gets its name from the Faubourg Tremé neighborhood in New Orleans, which is a colorful, crime-ridden section of the town that was only moderately hit by Hurricane Katrina. It will attempt to show what life is like from the point of view of the musicians, chefs, Mardi Gras indians, and other locals as they deal with life in the aftermath.

One good reason to watch this, real-life New Orleans resident John Goodman looks like he’s getting as close to his “Walter” character from The Big Lebowski as he’s ever been. The f-bombs are plentiful, and he’s got enough attitude to fill a room. Steve Zahn is a personal favorite, although it doesn’t look like he’s reaching too far beyond the “lovable dimwit” he often portrays, although that’s not necessarily a bad thing. There’s plenty of New Orleans jazz and zydeco throughout, which the characters admit acts as a hook for the program, but I’m interested in seeing the lives of Louisianian who have exchanges like this:

Her: “And you come home smelling like pussy.”

Him: “That ain’t pussy … that’s barbecue.”

Her: “Barbecue?”

Cut to him at his local bar with his buddies: “Daaaaaaaaamn.”

Wendell Pierce said  that after talking up New Orleans so much while working on The Wire, he’s embarrassed that this long after the hurricane, New Orleans still hasn’t come close to recovering. He compared it to post-WWII Europe, and it remains something difficult for people who haven’t lived there to imagine. Let’s hope Tremé changes that.


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