Treme Is Live: The Early Reviews

Yesterday, before the premier of Treme and the City of New Orleans anxiously anticipating the first episode of HBO’s stellar lineup this season, creator David Simon wrote an op-ed in the Times Picayune talking about inaccuracies and the story lines of Treme. He writes:

That we will be held to certain standards by New Orleanians goes with the territory. Beginning tonight, you are the ultimate arbiters — the only ones we really care about — on the question of whether our storytelling alchemy has managed to make anything precious or worthy from the baser elements of fact.

Your sensibilities matter to us because we have tried to be honest with that extraordinary time — not journalistically true, but thematically so. We have depicted certain things that happened, and others that didn’t happen, and then still others that didn’t happen but truly should have happened.

It’s most fascinating living in a city that seems to be constantly under the national microscope. First a new mayor for the first time in 8 years and then the Super Bowl, Mardi Gras and now Treme. Living here is certainly taking its toll on MY descriptions of the city to outsiders and welcoming guests into visit but having to (constantly and consistently) explain myself and why I’m here and why New Orleans matters to me. I thought it fair time, even with just this thin swatch of Treme, to see what others thought and had to say for a change. I’ve gone in search of reviews of Treme and its authenticity and this is what I found:

Gathering to Watch Their City’s Star Turn, NY Times “People here have spent their lives watching bad film and television about New Orleans,” he said in an interview, referring to Dennis Quaid’s attempt at a Cajun accent in the 1987 movie “The Big Easy.” “For people from New Orleans, it was a tremendous opening show.”

Treme on HBO, LA Times “…you have not so much a television show as a modern American opera, full of flop sweat, spectacle and something that looks suspiciously like hope.”

Soul of a City, Boston Herald “This is the kind of TV that viewers ask for but rarely get, driven by characters who are more than the sum of one or two qualities and who harbor depths that are revealed slowly, subtly, and authentically.”

‘Treme’ tunes into post-Katrina New Orleans, San Francisco Chronicle “This is a love letter with bruises. There’s no Bourbon Street gloss to the story of their lives even as they try to overcome Katrina and help revive a city.”

…and then there is the local reaction:

NOLA.com will be featuring multiple reviews every Monday to get your Monday-morning quarterbacking on.

Treme: The Instant Reviews, OffBeat Magazine pulls some tweets from last night.

I’ll be tuning in with the rest of you to see not only how the storyline unfolds, but how the telling of the collective story of New Orleans is portrayed. By all accounts that is a most delicate and tender balance, the reward of which is up until now, seemingly undefined.

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