HBO has released a new trailer and short featurette for Treme, the cable network’s new series from writer-producer David Simon (The Wire). Treme, which features a diverse ensemble cast, including John Goodman, Steve Zahn, and Wendell Pierce (whom you may recall as Detective Bunk Moreland in The Wire), is described as a drama about the lives of several New Orleans residents in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. By the way, in case you wondering, Treme (pronounced treh-may) refers to one of New Orleans’ oldest and most culturally rich neighborhoods.
Check out the trailer, featurette, and a detailed synopsis of the show (via Collider) below.
The Treme trailer from HBO:
TREME begins in fall 2005, three months after Hurricane Katrina and the massive engineering failure in which flood control failed throughout New Orleans, flooding 80 percent of the city and displacing hundreds of thousands of residents. Fictional events depicted in the series will honor the actual chronology of political, economic and cultural events following the storm.
The drama unfolds with Antoine Batiste, a smooth-talking trombonist who is struggling to make ends meet, earning cash with any gig he can get, including playing in funeral processions for his former neighbors. His ex-wife, LaDonna Batiste-Williams, owns a bar in the Central City neighborhood and splits her time between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, where her children and new husband have relocated. Concerned over the disappearance of her younger brother David, or Daymo, unseen since the storm, LaDonna has turned to a local civil rights attorney, the overburdened and underpaid Toni Bernette, for help. The government’s inconsistent and ineffectual response to the devastation has spurred Bernette’s husband Creighton, a university professor of English literature and an expert on local history, to become an increasingly outspoken critic of the institutional response.
Tremé resident Davis McAlary, a rebellious radio disc jockey, itinerant musician and general gadfly, is both chronicler of and participant in the city’s vibrant and varied musical culture, which simply refuses to be silent, even in the early months after the storm. His occasional partner, popular chef Janette Desautel, hopes to regain momentum for her small, newly re-opened neighborhood restaurant. Elsewhere in the city, displaced Mardi Gras Indian chief Albert Lambreaux returns to find his home destroyed and his tribe, the Guardians of the Flame, scattered, but Lambreaux is determined to rebuild. His son Delmond, an exile in New York playing modern jazz and looking beyond New Orleans for his future, is less sure of his native city’s future, while violinist Annie and her boyfriend Sonny, young street musicians living hand-to-mouth, seem wholly committed to the battered city.
The ensemble cast of TREME includes Wendell Pierce (”The Wire,” HBO’s documentary “When the Levees Broke”) as Antoine Batiste; Khandi Alexander (”CSI: Miami,” HBO’s Emmy®-winning “The Corner”) as LaDonna Batiste-Williams; Clarke Peters (”Damages,” HBO’s “The Wire” and “The Corner”) as Albert Lambreaux; Rob Brown (”Stop-Loss,” “Finding Forrester”) as Delmond Lambreaux; Steve Zahn (”A Perfect Getaway,” “Sunshine Cleaning”) as Davis McAlary; Kim Dickens (HBO’s “Deadwood”) as Janette Desautel; Melissa Leo (”Homicide: Life on the Street”; Oscar® nominee for “Frozen River”) as Toni Bernette; John Goodman (”The Big Lebowski,” “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”) as Creighton Bernette; Michiel Huisman (”The Young Victoria”) as Sonny; and classical violinist Lucia Micarelli as Annie.
What I like about David Simon’s work is the complexity of his narratives. When you’re watching a show like The Wire, for example, you don’t just learn about the drug dealers, you also learn how the drug dealers are involved with the politicians, and how the politicians are involved with the unions, and so on and so forth. As a viewer, you are never pandered to with simple morality tales. Rather, you are shown that there are many layers to every situation, and by the time you’ve peeled back all of the layers, you discover some greater philosophical truth. Simon’s ability to see the big picture out of what seem to be disparate plot elements comes no doubt from his 12 years of experience as a police reporter for The Baltimore Sun.
In my opinion, there are few events in recent memory more suited to Simon’s journalistic approach to storytelling than Hurricane Katrina. From the storm itself, to the government’s botched handling of relief efforts, to the (still ongoing) rebuilding process, there is enough drama to warrant multiple television shows. When you throw in the rich cultural heritage of New Orleans, as well as long-festering racial issues and politics, I think that Treme will be another opportunity for Simon to score a major critical success for HBO.
What do you think of Treme? Are you a fan of David Simon? Will this be a show that you tune into?