I don’t have cable, but if I did, I’d have HBO. And if I had HBO I’d watch Treme. No questions. What I do have is 4 kids and a subscription to Netflix. The former keep me pretty busy, and the latter keeps them pretty busy. And until we get some streaming action from any Treme episode a la Netflix I’ll remain somewhat informed of what’s what on Treme per the awesome and some might say over-the-top Monday-morning analysis of the previous evening’s episode on nola.com. I mean, have you read this? It’s like a molecular breakdown of every facet of those few minutes, from who recorded what song and why it was playing to why so-and-so said such-and-such. It’s a little over the top for my taste but allows me to live vicariously through it so I may almost experience each episode. And from everything I’ve read, not just on nola.com, my latest epiphany is this: because Kermit Ruffins is the only character to play himself, Treme is a nice reflection of post-Katrina New Orleans, but it’s moreso the writer’s version of events, not always wholly a true retelling of actual events. Kind of like Tom Petty in The Postman. Tom Petty actually played himself in Kevin Costner’s 1997 forgettable and so-so pseudo-futuristic tale. And Kermit, well, he’s the only cast member to do likewise thereby bending the allowable laws of storytelling. Wouldn’t you want everyone to play themselves? Or not at all? Having one “as himself” changes the whole dynamic. Steve Zahn is Steve Zahn. But he plays Davis Rogan. I mean if Davis played himself – and he could – wouldn’t the dynamic of the show be closer to what’s really real?
So far this second season Treme has brought the audience up to 2007, yes? And Treme started production of the first season in 2009, correct? So my query is this: what is going to happen when the linear storyline of the show catches up with the linear history of itself creating and shooting the show? Will Treme write itself into the post Katrina storyline it’s weaving? Basically, no, it doesn’t have to, but shouldn’t it? Who would play Steve Zahn playing Davis Rogan? In my lay understanding nowhere near each Monday’s comprehensive encyclopedic breakdown Treme must Treme itself. Why? Because the whole point of the show is to tell New Orleans’ story post Katrina, and whether you want to admit it or not the diurnal tedium of our lives will forever be impacted by the concept and execution of this show paralleling and in effect documenting the fabric of our culture. Does Treme always get it right? I don’t know. I don’t watch the show. And I don’t have to to tell you in the event Treme decides not to Treme itself it will wholly get it wrong. Completely. They’ve written themselves into our recovery. Period. The concept of this of course can get all Escape from Planet of the Apes on you in terms of Davis potentially watching Davis then watching Davis, but don’t overthink it. It is what it is, and it is the self documentarian’s dilemma. How much of you do you put into the thing you are creating without over-you-ing it?
This week Treme will wrap filming of its second season, just in time for summer and the inevitable beginning of hurricane season. Coincidence? Hell no. Like many productions running the risk of interrupting cinema in progress remains last on the list. Beyond that it was announced recently that Treme has been thankfully renewed and will have a third season which is what originally got me to thinking about the documenting self. A third season brings a linear storyline pretty darn close to when season one began shooting. I think at the very least they should somehow craft it to where Kermit plays Kermit playing Kermit. Or not. I don’t write for the show. And again, I don’t even watch it. Treme isn’t science fiction of course and we aren’t talking about time travel here. But if Treme decides not to even mention itself in its future storylines one may go ahead and scratch one’s head and then ask “Why not?” Just as red beans are on Monday and Hubig’s pies will shorten your life, Treme plays on Sunday and actively shoots its episodes in the streets and neighborhoods we call home. They shoot when you least expect it, and often they shoot when you’d rather them not. The cast members are in line ahead of you in the coffeeshop or outbidding you at a school auction. They are us, and we are them. However it gets done, step lightly, Treme. From what I’ve read, you’ve gotten it mostly right so far. It’d be a damn shame if you suddenly got all K-Ville, Grisham or TMZ – or worse – all three. Yikes.
Gumbo party with Julia Roberts, anyone?
Jean-Paul Villere is the owner of Villere Realty and the Du Mois gallery on Freret Street and father of four girls. In addition to his Wednesday column at UptownMessenger.com, he also writes an occasional real-estate blog at villererealty.com and shares his family’s adventures via pedicab on Facebook and Twitter.