Tuned In

David Simon on Treme, the Finale and Its Critics

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I could have added a link to my Treme review below, but this is good enough for its own post: Alan Sepinwall has a post-season postmortem interview with David Simon, in which the show’s co-creator talks about the first season, addresses some criticisms of the show, explains his thinking behind some of the storylines and talks a bit about his ideas for the second season. In the process, he makes some interesting points about making a highly serial show that—especially with bloggers and critics reviewing the series every week—people are nonetheless receiving and evaluating on an episodic basis:

It’s interesting you brought the flashback up, because David and Eric and I had a discussion about it: Do we need to see him before then in order for Daymo to resonate? Ergo, LaDonna’s dream right at the exact midpoint of the run, referencing Daymo, because we’re going to be in her head at the funeral. I said to David, “People are going to see it as being out of theme when they see it in episode five.” And he said, “Yeah yeah, people are going to say that it’s like Tony Soprano flashback bullshit. And you know what? It will be out of theme until it’s not.” But in the end, what’s more important: story as a whole, or the episodic? Did we lose people, because the episodics don’t play as perfect episodes? Sure we did. Always, going back to “The Wire.” You should read the reviews we got for the first six or seven episodes of “The Wire.” That’s the game we’re obliged to play if we’re going to believe in the thing as a whole.

It’s a good point, and I’ve tried to keep in mind—as when I write about a lot of HBO series, or, say, the last season of Lost—that it’s very much like reviewing a novel chapter by chapter. That said, people are experiencing it that way (those who don’t wait for the DVD anyway), and I know at least a few people, big fans of The Wire or of other challenging serial shows, who were extremely eager for Treme but drifted away from it halfway through the season. I stuck with it and I’m very glad I did, and I’m glad that David Simon makes series the way he does—but it’s a tradeoff nonetheless.