June 21, 2010. Posted by Joshua Jackson.Albert Lambreaux (Clarke Peters) turns out in full Indian regalia. Eddie Vanison is on the left. (Image Credit: Paul Schiraldi/HBO)
Season one of Treme concludes, if it were possible, with both a bang and a whimper. There's dancing, brass bands, Mardi Gras Indians on parade, cameos from New Orleans living legends, sunshine, springtime, renewal. There's also one funeral, another in the works, a chilling flashback, a series of departures and a set of reminders that the tragedy of New Orleans didn't end until long after Hurricane Katrina.
That juxtaposition of joy and pain has been central to the show; it's appropriate that the season finale ends with both a funeral and its second line parade. The characters in this drama deal with a lot of compromises and profound losses, but the culture of New Orleans has pleasure built into it. Perhaps that too is one of the show's messages: it'll take a lot more than a hurricane to strip the city of its fun.
© 2010 WBGO
June 14, 2010. Posted by Joshua Jackson.Professor Creighton Bernette (John Goodman), "enjoying" a moment with his class. (Image Credit: Paul Schiraldi/HBO)
Davis: "There are so many beautiful moments here."
Janette: "They're just moments. They're not a life."
Within the song-and-dance pageantry, there's an extended discussion about the nature of art going on in Treme. In one corner, there's the default belief that art is a leisure activity which stands in the way of life: where making music, or preparing haute cuisine, or writing novels is seen as an unsustainable, even irresponsible way to go about paying your bills and feeding your kids. In the other, there's the New Orleans sentiment that art happens every day, all the time; that art is life.
It's one of the show's central conflicts: musicians and other cultural artists are constantly hustling to justify their collective existence. But in episode nine, it's especially strong: Antoine and Creighton both have children to raise; Albert has to keep a day job to support his hobby; Janette has too many expenses to pay; Davis has a very evident blindness to the consequences of his hedonism; Annie and Sonny have a fractious relationship apart from performing. The arrival of Janette's parents, the payment negotiation scene with Jon Cleary, the manual labor of Albert's young charge, and the hard-working Texas carpenter only sets this into further relief. And by the end, the struggle to create art seems to have pushed at least one character to a breaking point.
© 2010 WBGO
June 7, 2010. Posted by Joshua Jackson.
Episode 8 of Treme takes place on Fat Tuesday and the two days preceding it. Enough said.
© 2010 WBGO