Mardi Gras in December

treme

I just finished watching season one of Treme, an HBO series that started a few years ago and is wrapping up right now. Since we don’t have cable I ordered it from the library and now, I want to recommend it to others.

Treme (pronouned Tremay) is a neighborhood in New Orleans right above the east end of the French Quarter–known for all the wonderful black jazz musicians it’s been home to over the decades and its bohemian lifestyle. This series follows several major characters’ lives that are intertwined, and begins three months after Hurricane Katrina hit.

There’s certainly all kinds of tension in it, but very little violence and an enormous amount of wonderful music (but be prepared for profanities). New Orleans has been one of my favorite places for years, even though I’ve only been back once after Katrina, on business. The food is magnificent and I’ve hardly ever met kinder people. (I should acknowledge that my husband and I met taking Zydeco dancing classes years ago so we already had a bias toward Louisiana music. We still zydeco…even way up here in Minnesota.)

The moments of almost crystalline humanity Treme captures are very rare in television–people being good to each other with no agenda, just because we’re all in this together. It also reveals much about the aftermath of Katrina that’s hard to hear, all the unnecessary suffering and  insidious way all levels of government have tried to cleanse the city of “undesirables”–in the process cleansing it of its rich culture. It is a powerful but understated testimony to the resilience of the human spirit. It isn’t self-indugent or sentimental–and because of that, it packs a greater punch.

I’ve just finished season one, so I have no idea how this all ends–but it’s a very worthwhile viewing experience, distressing in ways but ultimately quite uplifting.

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