Binge Guide

Weekly Binge: Treme

We give you what you need to know to dive into the popular shows everyone's talking about.

by | December 13, 2013 | Comments

Welcome to the Weekly Binge, where we’ll be taking a closer look at the shows that are worth your time. This week, we’re gonna head way down yonder to New Orleans to get acquainted with the good folks of Treme.




What’s the premise? A couple dozen loosely connected residents of New Orleans try to get their lives back to normal after surviving Hurricane Katrina.

What’s it like? New Orleans is nicknamed “The Big Easy,” and that’s often the vibe of Treme: it simmers rather than boils over, and it’s bittersweet rather than sad or angry. That’s not to say the show is particularly lighthearted — after all, it’s about unsettled people dealing with the aftermath of a natural disaster. But for fans of The Wire, creator David Simon’s previous series, Treme could seem pretty lethargic — at first, anyway. Think of it as a Robert Altman film in serial form — Nashville, but with jazz.

Where can I see it? It’s on HBO Sundays at 9 pm EST. You can stream the entire show if you have HBOGo; if not, seasons one through three are available for streaming on iTunes, Amazon Instant, and Yidio.

How long will it take? The show is currently on its fourth season; each of the previous seasons were 10 episodes each, at an hour an episode, so give yourself a couple weeks.

What do the critics think? Season four is the first to dip below 100 percent, but it’s still at a healthy 92 percent. The critics have praised Treme for its characters, its atmosphere, and its multi-stranded plotting, all of which add up to a portrait of a troubled but vibrant city. “The show’s beauty is not in big moments, or exquisitely written scenes (though it has both),” wrote the AV Club’s Todd VanDerWerff. “It comes in the pauses between, the semicolons and commas that make up the bulk of many lives, but which TV has trouble giving full heft.” ” It’s to the credit of the show’s creators, David Simon and Eric Overmyer, that these characters have become so familiar and alive in only 30-plus episodes,” wrote Mike Hale of the New York Times.

Why should I watch this? OK, so Treme isn’t as good as The Wire. You know what else isn’t as good as The Wire? Just about every other television show ever produced. WhileTreme is relatively short on fireworks, its languid pace and local color sneak up on you; after a while, you really feel like you know these people, and you really like spending time with them. What helps make it worth your time is its potent sense of place — with its distinctive rhythms and customs, New Orleans is practically a character on the show — and its eclectic cast, which is comprised of likeable HBO vets (Wendell Pierce, Clarke Peters, Kim Dickens), outstanding character actors (Melissa Leo, Steve Zahn, David Morse), and musicians playing musicians (Lucia Micarelli, Steve Earle). Oh, and the music is terrific, but you knew that already.

What’s my next step? For a wilder, crazier take on the Crescent City, be sure to watch Werner Herzog’s Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, featuring Nicolas Cage at his unhinged best. If you’re looking for historical context, two well-recieved documentaries — Spike Lee’s If God Is Willing and Da Creek Don’t Rise and Tia Lessin and Carl Deal’s Trouble the Water — should fit the bill. And if you’ve never listened to any records by Louis Armstrong, Fats Domino, the Meters, or Lil Wayne — well, you’ve got some catching up to do. Check out Doctors, Professors, Kings and Queens: The Big Ol’ Box of New Orleans, a handy four-disc box set of classics from some of the city’s greatest artists.

What do you like about Treme? How would you explain it to a newbie? Get in on the conversation here.

  • Dirk Disco

    Great show.

Tag Cloud

sports dceu Set visit docudrama crime The CW TIFF Rock Masterpiece DC Comics CBS All Access binge Ghostbusters ABC Schedule Animation Biopics Christmas psycho President ESPN IFC Sci-Fi Musicals Crackle Winter TV Reality Competition Ellie Kemper SXSW Showtime Nickelodeon TLC Red Carpet USA Network harry potter Fantasy Marathons Sundance Valentine's Day VICE Pop DC streaming service American Society of Cinematographers Comedy Central Rom-Com Reality talk show zombies TNT Lifetime adventure TBS dramedy MTV GoT discovery politics Rocky A&E NBC Awards Adult Swim transformers Cosplay Kids & Family Nominations Dark Horse Comics boxoffice comiccon finale science fiction Hulu VH1 Polls and Games Paramount Network TCA Oscars 24 frames Thanksgiving Superheroes DirecTV Drama Trailer BET serial killer DC Universe justice league Spike medical drama singing competition Super Bowl National Geographic sitcom Best and Worst WGN Universal Syfy Photos Sundance Now zombie Calendar Premiere Dates Disney Writers Guild of America cooking festivals Country Character Guide Toys 2017 Mary Tyler Moore PaleyFest History APB Sony Pictures El Rey Amazon TCM Comic Book Emmys AMC IFC Films Shondaland BBC America SundanceTV travel E3 based on movie YouTube Red Interview Horror Watching Series ITV Fox News Sneak Peek Lucasfilm Podcast 2015 thriller dc Teen Bravo Star Trek historical drama Disney Channel Star Wars E! Mystery cults crime drama Western First Look biography 20th Century Fox hist The Arrangement CMT Certified Fresh 45 Freeform ratings Infographic Music Lionsgate technology Starz PBS cops 21st Century Fox Year in Review war Fall TV CBS Video Games 007 NYCC GLAAD Marvel X-Men Grammys Action Food Network RT History OWN Countdown composers cinemax golden globes Holidays spy thriller unscripted what to watch Britbox YA diversity Superheroe Acorn TV Esquire GIFs TV Land Warner Bros. Extras Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt 2016 robots USA Tumblr HBO Pirates political drama social media BBC Opinion Trivia crime thriller Mindy Kaling TruTV SDCC Pixar Summer Musical vampires Spring TV CNN FOX Comedy ABC Family romance Election TCA 2017 CW Seed supernatural Martial Arts aliens MSNBC police drama Tomatazos crossover Logo cats Netflix Cartoon Network Nat Geo LGBTQ Winners FXX Box Office period drama TV Creative Arts Emmys FX Paramount See It Skip It