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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this dramatic and mature series -- which features the residents of the Treme neighborhood in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina -- includes potentially disturbing scenes of the storm’s aftermath, including flood damage and military patrols. The HBO series contains lots of profanity (“ass,” “damn,” “bitch,” “p---y,” “s--t,” “f--k”), and the N -word is occasionally audible. Expect occasional nudity (bare buttocks, breasts) and frequent consumption of wine, Budweiser beer, and hard liquor. There’s also lots of cigarette, cigar, and pot smoking.
What's the story?
TREME is a dramatic series co-created by The Wire's David Simon that features a group of local New Orleans musicians and the people connected to them as they rebuild their lives in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. It follows musical performers like Antoine Batiste (Wendell Pierce), Albert Lambreaux (Clarke Peters), and local radio DJ David McAlary (Steve Zahn), as they struggle to revive the musical heart of their flood-ravaged community. Restaurant owner Janette Desautel (Kim Dickens) struggles with a lack of staff and supplies while bar owner Ladonna Batiste-Williams (Khandi Alexander) negotiates her relationship with her musician/ex-husband. Meanwhile, flamboyant Tulane professor Creighton Bernette (John Goodman) offers his strong criticism about the government’s role in the flood disaster to anyone who will listen while his wife, attorney Toni Bernette (Melissa Leo), helps victims locate missing loved ones, including those who don’t want to be found.
Is it any good?
The gritty show, which is set in the flood-ravaged New Orleans community of Treme, unfolds amidst the traditional brass band music for which the neighborhood is known. As a result, the music is as just as important as its ensemble cast. But the series’ most significant character is the historic city itself, which acts as a visual reminder of the devastation that its residents continue to deal with.
The series’ well-written storylines are mixed in with strong musical performances and lots of local flavor. While some may find this combination entertaining, others may find it difficult to balance against the strong messages it sends about the seemingly endless struggles the city’s past and present residents continue to face, and about the fault of the politicians and various agencies that failed them. But to its credit, it succeeds in capturing the real voice and spirit of the city, and of the people who are rebuilding it.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the impact of Hurricane Katrina on New Orleans. What kinds of things have the city’s locals done to rebuild their communities? Do you think the controversies surrounding the breaking of the levees and the way government and law enforcement officials handled the crisis have ended completely? What do you remember about the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
The series shows lots of alcohol use and smoking. How do you think TV and movies should handle alcohol, drugs, and smoking? Is a show like this just reflecting reality, or is it participating in romanticing dangerous or unhealthy behavior?
Where is exactly is Treme located? Did you know that Treme is America’s oldest African-American neighborhood? Where does its musical history come from? What other kinds of things does the city of New Orleans offer?