I hated the first season of Treme. I didn’t know what I was watching and didn’t care to find out. I found the show plotless and plodding. I wrote about that. I found Steve Zahn’s Davis McAlary annoying. I wrote about that too. I thought it inevitable Treme, a drama about how individuals and communities survived Hurricane Katrina, would pale in comparison to David Simon’s masterpiece, The Wire.
I was wrong.
I wasn’t wrong at the time. The first season of Treme ranks among the slowest I’ve ever endured.
But after the series finale, which aired Sunday, I’m retracting everything I wrote. Moreover, I’ll offer a provocation: Treme is better than The Wire.
I’ve been debating whether I should write a “best of 2013” article for TV like I’ve done for independent television — see my write-ups in Indiewire of my favorite comedy (High Maintenance, plus 18 others) and drama (Whatever this is, plus 5 others) web series. In general, it was a good year for television drama, which comprises most of my TV diet. Women-led series, as Indiewire‘s Alison Willmore has noted, had a particularly good year. My favorite series told stories of women trying preserve a sense of self while reforming and surviving institutions, from hospitals to police and prisons: Danish political drama Borgen (which you can watch for a limited time free on Link TV here), The Good Wife, Enlightened, Getting On, Nurse Jackie, Top of the Lake, Orange Is The New Black, The Bridge (also Danish) and Orphan Black. That’s a lot of stellar shows. The year’s most surprising dramas, including American Horror Story: Coven and Scandal, have had great fun with moral ambiguity. (Cable’s macho dramas, on the other hand, while strong, aren’t maturing creatively as well as they should be: see Sons of Anarchy, Boardwalk Empire, The Walking Dead and arguably Mad Men, the exception of course being Breaking Bad).
Amid this flurry of great, diverse drama is Treme, throwing a party only the most disciplined TV watchers care to attend.
You tried to watch Treme. Like any sophisticated television viewer, you loved The Wire, and you were excited about a great work of historical fiction set in one of America’s most interesting but least represented cities, New Orleans.
You were bored.
It’s not your fault.
For the full review, click over to Indiewire!