WHY METHADONE: If, like so many people, you came to The Wire late in life, spent a weekend binge-watching it on HBO GO and are looking for something to fill the void, then you might be tempted to turn to Treme in order to come down. You are the group most in need of a methadone, after all, and on a superficial level, at least at first, it’s easy to squint and believe that Treme is the The Wire. Treme has Bunk, Freamon, David Simon’s name in the credits, and if you stuck around for the Boardwalk Empire snoozefest, you’d see Omar, too.
As a not-recent fan of the The Wire, let me assure that this isn’t such a good plan. Despite sharing a creator and a cast, the two shows don’t have much in common, quality-wise; where The Wire was involving, suspenseful, and almost sci-fi-like in its depiction of this unique, fully-developed universe (i.e., a world with people called “hoppers,” and strawberry soda, and Hans Solo is a gay black guy with a huge scar who robs drug dealers), Treme has always been more about people reacting (to the aftermath of Katrina) than acting (from following the money to poisoning a duck with booze), and it’s suffered for it.
WORTHY TREATMENT?: Not even a little bit. The Wire wasn’t perfect, but whether it was covering the streets or the schools, the stories were compelling and multi-dimensional. Treme is so passive, and the characters so flat (or, in the case of Steve Zhan’s character, so unbearably annoying), that after one season I was hoping Marlow would show up, take the cast out row house-style, and put everyone out of their misery, viewers included. I know New Orleans is a unique city, but I can’t imagine that the lives of all of its citizens are so New Orleans-centric as the show would make us believe. Surely there are some people in the city who listen to music from New York, or sometimes eat pizza instead of gumbo, or spend their Saturdays at Ikea instead of a perpetual second line. If your characters have depth, they do regular or unusual stuff (e.g., McNulty struggling to build his sons’ bunk beds, Greggs’ troubled relationship, etc) but these characters just exist to further opinions instead of plotlines.
NOT APPROVED AS METHADONE (or a show I’ll miss a fraction as much as The Wire when it’s upcoming/last season ends)