Watch: The second season of Treme, DVD
Created by David Simon (HBO Entertainment, 2012)
David Simon, whose HBO series The Wire was the best cinematic novel ever produced for television, has completed the second chapter of his dark, complex, and engrossing tale about survival and recovery in post-Katrina New Orleans, and it has been worth the wait.
Fourteen months after the wreck that was Hurricane Katrina, a band of musicians, chefs, barkeeps, carpenters, and attorneys struggle to rebuild their lives and homes. However, they must battle bureaucracy, corruption, and violence while fighting the undertow of their own deepening despair.
For Simon, a troubadour of the working class, the only way out of this enervating swamp is work itself. In story after story Simon’s cast of characters are either redeemed by the toil of their labor or corrupted and deadened by their inability to find or do any work worth doing.
Trombonist Antoine Batiste can be an unfaithful charmer, but his relentless pursuit of the craft of making music gives him a sense of purpose, a way to earn his daily bread, and a means of inspiring a new generation of players. Jazz trumpeter Delmond has fled New Orleans in search of fame and fortune, but plowing the roots of his hometown’s musical tradition provides a way to grow as an artist and reconnect to his family. Chef Janette has also been exiled to New York by the storm and its wake of destruction, but in her creative labors in Manhattan kitchens she finds a way to recover herself and her sense of purpose.
The only villains in this tale are those who do not or will not work: corrupt cops, politicians, and developers trying to cheat the system, or faceless bureaucrats blocking every path to recovery. If the workers were just allowed to do their jobs, the city could be a feast of jazz and jambalaya.
This article appeared in the September 2012 issue of U.S. Catholic (Vol. 77, No. 9, page 42).