APRIL 12, 2010 10:22AM

Open Call: How much "reality" does "Treme" owe us?

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Even before "Treme's" series premiere last night, the show's creator David Simon was forced to address critics who would complain that the program inaccurately depicts details of New Orleans life, post-Katrina. In a letter to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, Simon writes:

That we will be held to certain standards by New Orleanians goes with the territory. Beginning tonight, you are the ultimate arbiters -- the only ones we really care about -- on the question of whether our storytelling alchemy has managed to make anything precious or worthy from the baser elements of fact.
Simon is known for his extreme realism, in other celebrated HBO series "The Corner" and "The Wire." But the debate surrounding fact and fiction in "Treme" raises a compelling question: How real must a fictional TV show set in the near past be? Does Simon have a responsibility to the tell New Orleanians' story exactly as they lived it, or is he free to take liberties in the name of art and entertainment?

Blog your response by 9 a.m. ET tomorrow, April 13, and tag it Treme fact vs. fiction.

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Never heard of this show! Probably a good thing.
Tell WHICH New Orleanians' stories exactly as they lived them? There are, after all, almost half a million of us, and everyone's got their own version of events and opinions on things.

Haven't seen "Treme" (don't have cable), but the general consensus among my NOLA friends (black and white and Vietnamese, native and transplants) is that it's pretty realistic.
Even The Wire had it's own bits of "hyperrealism" or fantastical elements. Omar was essentially a gay ghetto version of Batman!
Not being from New Orleans but loving everything about it and cheering for it's comeback I think HBO's Treme provides a realistic glimpse into a segment of life there.
If the stories he writes contradict facts about the flood, that's a different issue. If the stories he tells with the flood events used as an authentic backdrop to the series are possible, anything he writes is fine.
Is it coming back on???

Excerpt from The Beatitudes: A Pinch and Scrimp Adventure by Lyn LeJeune, amazon.com in both Kindle and book. A book for and about New Orleans (proceeds go to The New Orleans Public Library Foundation)

She had grown up in a New Orleans housing project shamefully named Desire. Desire had been constructed in an isolated area northwest of greater New Orleans, bordered by industrial canals and railroad tracks. Pinch often recounted her nights as a young child lying on the floor under a matted blanket listening to gunshots in the night. Desire had been built in the late 40s over the Hideaway Club where Fats Domino had played his first gigs. Pinch swore she could hear Fats sing “My Blue Heaven” just for her. As Pinch’s childhood tumbled forward, she learned survival skills. By the age of twelve, she had tried just about every street drug going and stole to keep from going hungry, acquiring the nickname Pinch. She would have been doomed to a child’s death but for the help of an aged aunt. Pinch pulled herself up, finished high school, and made it through college by working sometimes two shifts as a housekeeper in seedy hotels that bordered the Ninth Ward. A city auditor once asked her why she hadn’t worked in the Lafayette Square District or the famous 625 St. Charles suites. “You could have paid for a Ph.D. with the tips alone.” And she replied: “Well, I guess ‘dis sista just feeling mo’ secure wid da brothers. Ozanam Inn be my place, homeless peoples and all.” Then she rubbed his arm. The poor guy broke out in a sweat, brushed his thinning hair back with an aged-spotted trembling hand, and looked at me for intervention. Later I asked Pinch why she’d stuck it to the auditor; she shrugged her shoulders and replied: “I guess just every once and a while I have to remind myself where I come from. Pride has many forms, love.” Pinch had overcome. She was the bravest person I ever knew.

Elijah Rising