Monday, June 21, 2010

Review - Treme Season 1 Episode 10 I'll Fly Away (plus thoughts on the concept, ratings)

Yes, I'm late again and have no time for a long review. HBO should move its dramas to Friday or Wednesday... to fit my schedule. But I do have a lot of thoughts on the show in general down below.

About 15 minutes before the end of the episode, there was a long flashback lasting over 5 minutes, taking us back to the days before Katrina. After a season of watching these characters develop, it was very nice to see where they'd come from originally. In some ways, the situation was different and in others, they were the same. Annie and Sonny were happy and even anticipating the storm, but now they're worlds apart in both mentality and location. Davis is still kind of the same, scorning his neighbors for leaving. Creighton is alive (obviously) and isn't as depressed as he became, throwing out a couple glib lines about the levees no less.

My big problem with the show has been a lack of plot and Alan Sepinwall's interview with David Simon sheds light on this issue. His response summed up: There is plot, but not fake television tropes--Treme is a realistic portrayal of life.

That's fair and very admirable that he is trying to go down that path. However, I don't think TV audiences right now--or ever--will fully embrace the kind of television narrative that unfolds slowly week by week without a dramatic jolt at least in each episode.

Looking at the ratings--just a smidgen over 1 million viewers--Treme isn't doing particularly well. As opposed to True Blood, which had over 5 million viewers tune into the season premiere last week, I would argue that Treme has both superior acting and writing. The thing is, True Blood has a more palatable premise, filled with vampires, hot people, and twists every couple minutes. The fundamental mindset of the average television viewers lies in the realm of True Blood, not Treme. And that's why Treme is on HBO, a premium cable network which thrives on subscriptions. Luckily, Treme has had enough critical success that it'll get a couple seasons, though Deadwood serves as a cautionary tale.

Treme, like The Wire, will never become a mega-hit like The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, Sex in the City, or True Blood. It holds a place in the small niche of television viewers who appreciate the realism and intricacy of characters in New Orleans navigating their way through life. People aren't holding guns to others' heads nor is there a constant threat of death. Hot chicks aren't always stripping in the background or even wearing skimpy clothing. That's life and that's Treme.

Score: 9.4/10
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