First of all, I watched no interviews, read no interviews, watched a single trailer, and have read not a single piece of pre- or post-airing commentary, analysis, complaint or hype. Didn’t watch David Simon on The Colbert Report, didn’t read his open letter in the T-P either. I wanted Treme, Episode 1, as clean as I could get it, which isn’t very being a native, a woman, black, 2-month exile, mother in Charity for 5 days, a returnee, a Sliver survivor raised on the other side of Canal….I knew some things would ring false, or be on the wrong street, that I’d know that building was in Central City and not Treme, that November wasn’t quite so warm and lovely in 2005, that I’d be watching it like a starving child watching an apple be pared.
It was David Simon. I knew it would be well-written, thoughtful, respectful, tough.
I wasn’t worried. Not too much.
Was it perfect? Is your shit, any of it, perfect? [Get real.] Answer: no. Did I say Mm-hm while I was watching? Yep. Did I say, Now that’s a New Orleans woman? Yep. I said, You got that shit right, too, and not just when the professor was trying to throw the camera into the river. Did I laugh? In several different ways and with nuanced meanings. I most appreciated that the black characters, though all victims of some level of tragedy, were not pitied, viewed through a long lens like specimens or objets trouve , were people getting by post-catastrophe and picking up what they could as they could. No pity. And no colonialism—thanks! It wasn’t the Poor Darkies and The Noble Whiteys–the white folks came off as somewhat less dignified; the dj, of course, but even the professor and lawyer were raving or at the end of some kind of rope. Oh, and they weren’t in Rex.
Things may get nastier when, I speculate, Season 3 turns to the schools systems. Who will play Paul Pastorek?
After watching all seasons of The Wire, I know how slow a series opener like this, like Simon’s, can be. This one, not so bad. Maybe I just get the references and milieu more—but I didn’t find Baltimore all that hard to fathom, being from a port city with racial tensions, deep poverty and hard-to-ignore crime—or maybe because I’m a novel reader and writer, I don’t mind the slower build-up. [Accumulation. It’s one of the hardest things to teach in fiction writing. students quickly and instinctively understand how events build in a plot to climax but they struggle to see the accumulative power, or anything, of the epiphany. Sheesh.]
I’m not doing any kind of textual analysis [do you really want more? can’t you just watch it and wait for next week?] and I am not picking through flaws or what somebody in East Oklahoma possibly won’t pick up on. On that note—WTF? Do you really think that when I, a poor black female child from New Orleans, read literature in college or high school that anyone explained to me all the intricacies and nuances and duhs of middle-and upper-middle class East Coast life and rituals of white folks? Fuck no. Did I get it? Yeah. I thought about it. I asked questions and found answers. I learned something, or some things, that made it clearer to me. If viewers in Rhode Island don’t want to ask questions, they can go back to watching…whatever that stuff is, hell if I know.
One thing I hope to see over time—a clarification of the difference in post-Floods situations of blacks and whites on the show. How that is presented—I’ll be watching.
I’m not worried—someone will complain.
Might be me.
~ G Bitch