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Treme: Season 1, Episode 2

"Treme's" second episode suggests that you can't just love New Orleans - you have to love it for the right reasons.

It’s not always easy being a David Simon fan, despite the excellence of his work. One gets an impression, with the creator of ‘The Wire’ and ‘Treme,’ that it’s not enough just to like his stuff, or support his pet causes – you must also have the right reasons. For instance, critics wrote admiringly of ‘The Wire’ as being “Dickensian,” given its urgent sense of social justice and abundant attention to vivid characters who cut across classes and ethnic groups. Simon seemed to think that critics use the “Dickensian” label as a substitute for actually grappling with the show’s real-world themes, and in the fifth season, a pompous editor gassed on about “The Dickensian aspect” of a newspaper series.

“Treme” places a similar premium on “the real New Orleans.” On the second episode, “Meet Da Boys on the Battlefront,” a busking keyboardist named Sonny (Michiel Huisman) treats squeaky-clean Wisconsinite tourists with open disdain for thinking of “When the Saints Go Marching In” as “authentic” New Orleans music. They express sympathy for the plight of the Ninth Ward, and he sneeringly questions whether they ever valued the neighborhood before the Katrina disaster hit the news. You want to tell Sonny and Simon alike, “Hey, these folks are on your side.” Sonny's not above taking their money, though, and comes across as far less sympathetic than the well-meaning kids.