"We love this city but it needs to love us back." These chilling words beat through the overcoming soul of New Orleans, one of the most magical and entrancing places in America. It’s not so much opinion as it is a stone-cold fact: there’s a deep, rich history rolling through its pulsating heart. Never before was it captured as well as in the HBO series Treme. And in the trailer released today for its the fourth and final season, the world is a different place. It’s the mix of darkness and beauty that’s made the Louisiana city such a hotbed for creativity and excitement — coupled with the honest-to-goodness hardships and realities of life in post-Katrina NOLA.
The fourth season picks up after a slight time dash. It’s now thirty-eight months after Hurricane Katrina, and yet there is still much to be done — something evident from the city’s own struggles both in and outside of the one-minute clip. But just like the optimistic jewel it is, the city’s proud ethos is on display: “We’re trying to build something here.” Which, in the end, is the through line of not just the series, but the heart that carries the entire city forward, making it worthy of such a televised homage.
Though Treme may not be cult-like in its worship like previous Simon series The Wire (and goodness me, do people love The Wire), the reality-based series is rich with the nuanced and delicate balance of life in the Big Easy, and, as showcased in season three, it is the struggle and varied mix of music, food, culture, and hardship that makes the city and the series such a visual and emotional success. Though plagued by low ratings for much of its previous seasons, it has never once lost sight of the simple truth: "It's about culture, family, and tradition."
And it’s culture and tradition that has kept the show alive, even attracting celebrity fans in its wake. Like Anthony Bourdain, chef and travel show host, who has been exceedingly vocal about his love of the series — to the point that Simon asked him to write for it. Adding his culinary flair to the world of cuisine, Bourdain also attracted a series of celebrity chefs to appear on-screen, including Emeril Lagasse, Tom Colicchio, and David Chang. As mentioned in an interview with HBO Connect, he will return to write for Treme’s final season, stating that he’s “not done with Janette yet—and we have some things still in mind. Stay tuned. There are some real surprises and a lot of great food.”
Of course, it’s not all grim and grey, surprises and demises: Barack Obama has just been elected, bringing with him the spirit and hope of a nation to the White House halls. And characters like Davis McAlary (Steve Zahn) are still fighting against the powers that be — pushing his rallying cry against The Man and everything they’ve done (or not done, really) to harm the city he loves ever-forward.
But the struggles are still there — the clip reunites us with Antoine Batiste (Wendell Pierce), still grasping at the hope of keeping his music class afloat, while the bodies continue to build up much to cop Terry Colson (David Morse)’s chagrin.
One can only hope that the series becomes a cult classic much in the same vein as The Wire, but fans of the series won’t have much time to savor its last moments, as the premium cable provider has only commissioned five final episodes. Short and sweet.
Treme premieres December 1, 2013 on HBO.