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Series: Treme
"Won't bow, don't know how"

"Play for that money, boys, play for that mother-fuckin' money."

David Simon's followup to The Wire which has garnered just as much critical love right off the bat.

Beginning three months after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, the series follows several residents who are struggling to put their lives back on track, particularly centered around the titular neighborhood (which is pronounced "tre-may"). Ladonna Williams tries to keep her bar running while searching for her brother who has been missing since the hurricane. Her ex-husband Antoine Bastiste plays his trombone in any gig he can find to stave off poverty for his new family. Civil rights lawyer Toni Bernette helps Ladonna in her search, while her husband Creighton vents his anger at how the crisis was mismanaged at anyone who crosses his path. Alternative DJ Davis McAlary is enraged at the changes his station has been forced to make, and his "friend with benefits" Janette Desautel runs a high class restaurant on dwindling funds. Albert Lambreaux is driven to return to town to resume his position as a Mardi Gras Indian Chief, but faces opposition from both members of his tribe and his own children. Street violinist Annie faces the dissolution of her relationship when her boyfriend Sonny becomes envious of her superior talent.

Season two skips ahead several months and begins on All Saints' Day 2006. More than a year after Katrina, more and more people are returning, but unfortunately this includes a good deal of criminals, plus one new major character in Nelson Hildalgo, a Texan with a very vaguely defined job who's looking to make some money off the rebuilding efforts.

Despite the show sharing several similarities with Simon's previous opus (wide-ranging cast of characters, brutally realistic stories, and a complete lack of artificial music), it distinguishes itself with a far more optimistic tone. Despite the bleak circumstances for many of the characters, they mostly hold onto hope that things can improve and the city can regain its former greatness.

Tropes associated with Treme

  • Acceptable Breaks from Reality: The production team has publicly stated they hope locals take any inaccuracies this way. It hasn't worked out 100% - see Reality Is Unrealistic below.
    • The example offered by producers is Janette serving a Hubig's pie to Creighton in the pilot. At the time, Hubig's was still closed, meaning either it was a pre-Katrina (stale) pie, or, in David Mill's words, "a magic pie."
  • Actor Allusion:
    • Creighton disparagingly references The Big Easy, a film John Goodman was in. The writer had actually forgotten this, and at first Goodman was suspicious that it was an insult.
    • Wendell Pierce channels his inner Bunk and proclaims that "Antoine Batiste is strictly a cooked-fish eating motherfucker."
  • Actor-Shared Background: Lucia Micarelli is a professional violinist making her acting debut as Annie; both started on the instrument at age seven.
  • Added Alliterative Appeal:
    • Davis' slogan "Pot for potholes."
    • Creighton's rant "Fuck you, you fucking fucks."

  • After the End: The series starts a couple months after hurricane Katrina.
  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: Davis comes from an extremely upper crust family descended from Jefferson Davis and at least his mother is still quite racist.
  • Amicable Exes: Antoine and Ladonna, at least most of the time. Antoine even acknowledges that her new husband is probably a better father for their sons than he could be.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: "What do you do?"
    • When Davis takes a job as a tour guide, he finds himself forced to admit how many of the important places in the city's history have been torn down. Finally someone in the group asks him "Do you people preserve anything important?"
  • As Himself / Special Guest: Many New Orleans musicians guest star as themselves.
    • Former New Orleans city councilman Oliver Thomas plays himself, all the way up to the part where he's indicted of corruption and resigns, and even when he's in prison.
    • Restaurant Critic Alan Richman also plays himself in season 2, and his scathing review of New Orleans cuisine is featured. Fair play to him, he allowed David Simon to have Janette the chef throw a drink in his face.
  • Author Appeal: Inverted in the case of Anthony Bourdain, who has made appeals to write for the show, and finally got his wish with a story co-credit in Season 2.
  • Author Existence Failure: Writer David Mills died of a brain aneurysm while on set. Mills also worked on acclaimed series like The Wire, NYPD Blue, Homicide and was the creator of the tv series Kingpin
    • Also happens in-universe: After Harley is murdered, Annie discovers a large collection of unfinished songs in his apartment, and attempts to finish them herself.
    • And an actor one, as Michael Showers, who played Captain Guidry in season 2, was mysteriously found dead in the Mississippi River.
  • Bad Cop/Incompetent Cop: The NOPD does not look very good in this series, though given the creators' pervious work, the subject was bound to come up. Offenses include brutality, stealing property, and attempted bribery. Even before Katrina, this sort of behavior was far from out-of-character for the NOPD. Several characters say as much throughout the series. New Orleans natives might say this is Truth in Television.
    • David Morse's character, an 8th District watch commander, seems to be set up as the exception that proves the rule. (Although this being a David Simon production, something terrible could always happen.) This is also Truth in Television, as the 8th District covers the French Quarter and NOPD makes an effort to staff it with competent, honest cops.
  • Based on a True Story: In addition to the Real Life musicians, at least one character (John Goodman's professor Bernette) is based on a real person. Also subverted; fans speculated that Sonny and Annie were based on a real musician couple who broke up a few months after the hurricane, followed by the man murdering the woman and then jumping off a hotel roof a few days later. The producers have thoroughly denied it, and the real event is mentioned in season two.
    • Davis is based partly on Davis Rogan, a neer-do-well DJ who, as one of the commentaries points out, has been explicitly banned from at least one bar with a sign saying "If you are Davis Rogan, please leave." It was Rogan who actually wrote many of Davis' songs as well.
  • Berserk Button: The British TV reporter pushes Creighton's when he insults New Orleans by calling it a provincial city with outdated musical tastes. His microphone ends up in the river (and his camera almost does too).
  • Big Applesauce: The narrative switches away from New Orleans sometimes, as a few characters work and/or reside in New York for a while.
  • The Big Easy
  • Bilingual Bonus: French, Spanish and Vietnamese are all used to provide extra plot and/or gags.
  • Black Sheep Hit: Davis considers "The True" this. Nobody really agrees with him.
  • Book Ends: The season premieres: season one begins and ends with a second line, and in season two it's a kid walking down the street practicing his trumpet.
    • In season three, we start with musicians being arrested for an unauthorized tribute concert. At the end of the episode they do it again, and this time the cops act as their escort.
  • Bratty Teenage Daughter: Sofia in season two, though with more justification than most.
  • California Doubling: Mostly averted, but the scenes in New York are all faked on sets.
  • Can't Get In Trouble For Nuthin': After two fellow musicians become popular after being (not really) arrested for an unpermitted parade, Antoine tries to get arrested at a follow up event. The police show up, but this time they're there to escort the musicians. Even worse, Antoine WAS arrested right after the first parade, but nobody saw it happen.
  • The Cast Showoff: Wendell Pierce mimed his trombone playing in season one, but learned to play for real starting in season two.
  • Catch Phrase:
    • Davis' "Right? RIGHT?"
    • "Fuck me! Fuck me!" for Jeanette.
  • Chekhov's Skill: In season one, Davis demonstrates remarkable knowledge of wine when he steals some from Jeanette's restaurant. In season four, he spends some time working as her sommelier.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Creighton's first YouTube video. Sofia later takes inspiration from him.
  • Continuity Lockout: The show assumes a basic familiarity with New Orleans culture. If not, prepare to be confused as to why a bunch of African-Americans are dancing around in Indian costumes, or why everyone seems to be lockstepping during funerals.
  • Cool Loser: Davis thinks he is this, when he's probably the latter.
  • Cultural Posturing: While many regard their city as a shining example of historical and cultural riches, Davis brings up the subject quite often, even with his neighbours, who unbeknown to him are also native of New Orleans. Creighton is also very vocally proud and touchy of his heritage.
  • Death Glare: Ladonna turns this into an art form.
  • Determinator:
    • Put any bereaucratic roadblocks in front of Toni, and you'll just make her try harder to get to the truth.
    • Davis' relentless moxie makes up for his lack of talent, more or less.
  • Dramatic Irony: Some characters in the Season 1 finale flashback -particularly Davis and Creighton- discuss that the Katrina will amount to nothing or won't affect the city, as it's usually the case with most hurricanes.
  • Driven to Suicide: Creighton. Especially brutal as we're given a tour of all the warning signs that none of the other characters notice before it actually happens.
  • Embarrassing First Name: Davis was named after his ancestor Jefferson Davis; he tells people it was actually for various celebrities like Sammy or Ossie.
  • Everything Is Big in Texas: Mentioned when Sonny takes a gig in Texas; it turns out some things are small in Texas.
  • Foreign Cuss Word: "I think he just called you a motherfucker in Dutch."
  • Four Lines, All Waiting: By season two, the show's scope is so wide that most characters only get two or three scenes an episode.
  • Friends with Benefits: Discussed by Davis and Janette. She looks down on this kind of relationship, but Davis remarks the friendship part is the important one.
  • Finale Credits: See also Silent Credits
  • Honor Before Reason: Albert. "Won't bow! Don't know how!"
  • Hotter and Sexier: Season 3 noticeably features more skin and sex scenes than the previous two.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Davis speaks out against the gentrification of his neighborhood, but quickly changes his tune when it results in a pair of strippers moving in across the street.
  • It's Always Mardi Gras in New Orleans: Not always, obviously, but music is a central theme.
    • And much of the first season leads up to Mardi Gras 2006 near the end, then continues to St. Joseph's Day. The show is realistic, though, as festivities and preparations begin (and are shown) in January.
  • It Is Pronounced Tro PAY: The title and the neighborhood it comes from is pronounced "Tre-MAY", "TRE-May", or "Tremmy" (in the documentary Cutting Loose)
    • Annie's first scene features her giving a subtle lesson in how to say New Orleans ("Or-lens," not "Or-leens," as it's sometimes pronounced in songs for a better rhyme).
  • Knight in Sour Armor:
    • Creighton knows too well how bad New Orleans has it, and still calls it the greatest city in the world and wouldn't live anywhere else.
    • Albert is this to a lesser extent.
  • The Last DJ: Davis plays this to a tee.
  • Lighter and Fluffier: Compared to The Wire Then again, the same can be said of Dante's trip through Hell.
    • Darker and Edgier: The 2nd season, with a major focus on rising crime as more people start returning to the city.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters
  • Locked Out of the Loop: In season two, it bizarrely seems like everyone in town except Sophia knows about her father's suicide.
  • Meaningful Echo: David Simon works in quite a few of the most famous lines from The Wire. Examples include Davis saying "and all the pieces matter" and Terry saying "the game is rigged" in season 3.
  • Mood Dissonance: It's in the blood of New Orleans, its inhabitants will always find the time to cheer up and celebrate during the direst circumstances, come hell or high water. Not being able to would be the biggest of the tragedies. Second line funerals are a prominent example.
  • Motor Mouth: Davis
  • No Place for Me There/But Now I Must Go: Terry leaves New Orleans in the finale after rationalizing he's burnt a big bridge. As he drives away from Louisiana, its music radio station becomes garbled, marking the sad end of an era.
  • N-Word Privileges:
    • Again, Davis. Or so he thinks, until he ends up getting the crap kicked out of him by someone who overheard him. Ironically, in the scene where he gets punched out for this he was quoting Antoine word for word rather than throw it around casually.
    • Delmond is offended by New Yorkers saying the same negative things about New Orleans that he always does. "I get to say that. They don't!"
  • Not What It Looks Like: Davis says this when Annie walks in on him sitting in a room with a shirtless Sophia passed out in front of him the morning after Mardi Gras. Seriously, it's not.
  • Once a Season: A Mardi Grass episode, which needless to say it's some Serious Business. The Creightons will loop Professor Longhair's Go To The Mardi Gras.
  • Overprotective Dad: Linh's dad, who fiercely guards his daughter. Gruff at first, he's revealed to be a cool and supportive guy.
  • Persona Non Grata: Davis is told to behave by a bartender, otherwise they'll put back again the sign "If your name is Davis Mcalary, please leave."
  • Protest Song: Davis' "Shame, Shame, Shame", a Hail To The Thief about George W. Bush (with a jab or two at Barbara Bush as well).
  • Real Men Wear Pink: Albert Lambreaux seems to command respect from the neighborood and isn't above beating two-bit hoods within an inch of their life. He also prances around in an ostentatiously garish feather costume every year.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: The commentary on the pilot has David Simon discussing how some locals criticized the show for a shot of the Superdome which showed an undamaged roof, despite the roof having been repaired by the time the show starts.
    • This is because the repair in place at the time of the pilot was very temporary. Local viewers are recalling the much longer permanent fix that was done after the pilot.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: One ad had upbeat music while the camera panned over a devastated row of houses.
  • Shout-Out:
    • A friend of Sonny's mistakenly calls Amsterdam "Hamsterdam."
    • Annie stumbles upon an episode of Generation Kill. Doubles as a minor Celebrity Paradox, as Cpl. Person is heard offscreen and is played by one of Janette's roommates.
  • Silent Credits:It happens in the series finale, which is also included as a Finale Credits as a tribute to the musical and cultural community of New Orleans, and also one to writer/producer David Mills, who died on set late in production of season 1
  • Suspiciously Similar Song: In-universe. Annie's first attempt at songwriting accidentally rips off Bob Dylan's "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right."
  • Ted Baxter: Davis likes to pretend that he is really hip and a great musician when in reality he's just a DJ on a local radio station.
  • Too Soon:
    • There are some folks who've left New Orleans and can not watch the show or anything dealing with Katrina.
    • In-universe, the citizens find disrespectful the existence of "Katrina bus tours."
  • Vice City: Discussed by Lt. Terry Colson.
    Terry: I've come to believe that there's a big difference between vice and sin. New Orleans gets it. The rest of the world... Well, vice... you know, vice, it's human. It's one drink too many. It's an illegal smile in a coat pocket. It's a bet on a wrong horse. It's a wrong prick rubbing against a wrong piece of ass. Sin is those bodies over in Central City, the ones that we just keep rolling up on and doing so goddamn little about.
  • Wham Episode:
    • "Wish Someone Would Care"
    • "What Is New Orleans?" is season two's.
  • What, Exactly, Is Your Job?: Asked by Nelson's cousin to him in the season 2 finale. See Armor-Piercing Question.

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alternative title(s): Treme
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