Treme (2010-2013)

Treme is a drama which aired on HBO for 36 episodes from 2010-2013. Created by David Simon and Eric Overmyer, the show follows a large cast of characters as they attempt to rebuild their lives three months after the tragic events of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. It has been critically acclaimed for its great story telling and its attempts to produce tourism and create opportunities for local hiring and employment.

One of Treme’s most significant contributions to New Orleans since the show began has been the production of tourism in Treme. The show has worked to redraw the tourist maps in a way that encourages fans to visit local businesses which are otherwise overlooked in support efforts by the city, state, and by corporations. The show provides cultural validation to these businesses and many other areas across Treme by premiering them on an quality network like HBO. The show’s producers have linked these sites up with websites and articles to provide even more information on these areas. Treme is also connected to many philanthropic projects in the neighborhood and hires local actors and crew to work on each show’s production. In this way, it is supporting urban populations and validating urban culture.

Treme has entered into a new realm of recent forms of media production which links “the decisions and policies aimed at particular configurations of racialized spaces with the city and the material production of city space and citizen-subjects” (Parmett 194). Programs such as Treme are not only rebranding urban culture and creating a commodified urban subject, but are actually participating in cultural governance. The show’s producers decide which businesses to include in their show and which to leave out. In this way, they promote a city renewal project that turns the economy of Treme into one of service for the show’s educated liberal viewers. Consider, too, that the show has no plan put in place for sustaining this type of economy after the show leaves the area.

Written by Lee Scandinaro


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