I just watched the first episode of Treme, an HBO series set in the Tremé neighborhood of New Orleans after Katrina. Thanks to On Demand, I had access to the first 79-minute installment. I hesitated to tune in to the series when it first aired in early April because I was sure it would depress me. But the show, produced by the same team that created The Wire, manages to find warmth, humor, and resilience among the city's inhabitants while capturing the devastation of the flooding. Music plays a central role and the series features many local musicians.
The creators of Treme couldn't have dreamed that their program would air just as Louisiana became engulfed in a new catastrophe, but the juxtaposition of the earlier and current events certainly added poignancy to my viewing experience. When John Goodman's character, a local college professor, angrily tells a journalist, "We're dying down here" while the government dithers around, I immediately thought of James Carville, who recently said said those same words as he furiously protested the Federal government's slow response to the oil spill. When things get really bad, as they did after Katrina, they can apparently get even worse, as we're learning during the present crisis.
Judging from the first episode of Treme, though, there's room for optimism. Even in the worst of circumstances, people find reasons to laugh. I plan to keep watching the series and hope that joy leavens the sadness on television and in real life.
Here's a link to a trailer for Treme on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RPVMxuoarbg.