Spoofs & Satire

Credit: Gary J. Wood

HBO’s Treme Corners You at a Party

When art is staring you in the face, you can’t look away.

At a crowded cocktail party, TREME fetches an Old-Fashioned glass full of Sazerac from the bartender, spies VIEWER standing alone in a corner, makes an approach.

TREME: Hey there, I’m a TV show set in New Orleans. I’m about art and integrity, and I don’t give a shit what you think of me.

VIEWER: I find that attitude kind of refreshing; I like the idea of uncompromising and ambitious long-form TV. You know, you look vaguely familiar. Aren’t you related to—

TREME: Don’t compare me to The Wire. In fact, don’t even mention The Wire. Mention The Wire again and I’m throwing this Sazerac right in your fucking face.

VIEWER: Sorry, I just—

TREME: Look, shut up for a second and just listen to this Kermit Ruffins trumpet solo.

TREME holds out a pair of expensive earphones. VIEWER listens for about 30 seconds before handing the earphones back.

VIEWER: That’s really neat. I once—

TREME: The solo is nine minutes long. You have to listen to the whole thing, or else you won’t understand how genius it is.

VIEWER reluctantly takes the earphones and listens. TREME holds out a picture of some people standing in front of a restaurant.

That’s Uglesich’s; the place closed in 2005. We went there so we could stand outside and talk about how good the food was back when it was still open.

VIEWER: Why are you showing me that? Did you eat there or something?

TREME: Of course not, moron. That’s Uglesich’s; the place closed in 2005. We went there so we could stand outside and talk about how good the food was back when it was still open.

VIEWER: Isn’t that kind of an awkward way to convey an idea on TV? I mean—


VIEWER: What? Who said anyone hates New Orleans? Everyone I know loves New Orleans. Years ago I went there during Mardi Gras, and—


VIEWER: I wasn’t talking about Bourbon Street. I just wanted to say that I’ve never been to an American city that feels so vibrant and weird in the way—

TREME: Weird? Did it ever occur to you that New Orleans is normal and the rest of America is the place that’s weird? Or have you bought into corporate propaganda so long that you actually think that Federal recovery efforts weren’t compromised by high-level—

VIEWER: Corruption, yes! That issue totally fascinates me. I’d love to know more about that.

TREME: Sure. By the way, sometimes I go to New York, and when I’m there I hang out with hot-shit celebrity chefs like Eric Ripert and Tom Colicchio and David Chang.

VIEWER: What on earth does that have to do with post-Katrina New Orleans?

TREME sniffs at the Sazerac, smirks.

TREME: It’s not my problem that you don’t understand art, buddy.

VIEWER: Oh…so back to corruption—I hear there were some serious problems with the New Orleans police department.

TREME: Yes. Melissa Leo and Wendell Pierce are part of a storyline that touches on that. And Khandi Alexander and Clarke Peters play characters that dramatize the moral soullessness of bureaucracy.

VIEWER: Wow, those are some incredibly talented actors. Can we focus on their characters for a second?

TREME: Sure, but first I want to talk about the proper way to prepare  rabbit roulade, because the rest of America is doing it wrong. First off, you need to find a way to locally source the—

VIEWER: Wait, back to Wendell Pierce’s character. You’re saying that police harassment—

TREME: Quick, name 10 New Orleans musicians.

VIEWER: …that police harassment was so rife in—

TREME: Fats Domino, Terence Blanchard, John Boutte, Ingrid Lucia, Donald Harrison, Frogman Henry, Allen Toussaint, Dr. John, Ivan Neville, and Trombone Shorty. BOO-yah!

VIEWER: …so rife in the period after Katrina that—

TREME: Did you know that Kermit Ruffins doesn’t even know who Elvis Costello is? All the guy cares about is barbecue.

VIEWER: I’m sorry, but I don’t care all that much about Kermit Ruffins. I’m more interested in the civic challenges the city of New Orleans faced after—

TREME: Yeah, yeah. I’ll get to that on my own terms, buddy. What did you fucking expect, The Wire: Port of Call New Orleans?

VIEWER: No, but it feels like you’re overly fixated on insider-minutiae about the city’s food and music. Which is fine, I guess, but there’s a point at which I’d rather hear about—

TREME: See, that’s the problem with the rest of America. You don’t know how to have fun. New Orleans is a city that knows how to have fun, even the face of tragedy.

VIEWER: I totally believe that. But to be honest you seem incapable of exuding any fun yourself.


VIEWER: Just because you say you’re fun doesn’t make you fun. You mostly just seem angry.

TREME: See, that’s the problem with the rest of America. Everybody should be as angry as I am.

VIEWER: Yes, but perhaps we could empathize with that anger better if you showed the—

TREME: The ways in which civic institutions fail normal citizens, blah blah blah. I know. But first I’d like to make it clear to all the haters out there that New Orleans is home to a kick-ass sludge-metal scene, and if you cretins would only—

VIEWER: I’m sorry, but this is getting tedious. It was nice meeting you.

There is an awkward moment as VIEWER squeezes his way past TREME, making eye contact across the room with what appears to be BREAKING BAD.

TREME: Yeah, that’s right, asshole. You go back to your Chipotle and your fucking Taylor Swift and your ignorant little philistine prejudices. I’ll be standing right here, not giving a shit.

TREME sips at the Sazerac, makes a disgusted face, and heads off to confront the bartender.