Where are the Crackpots in Treme?


I love Treme, Season 3 seems to have found a kind of groove that is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before on TV. Narrative as improvisational jazz. David Simon deserves his genius grant.” But something’s been bothering me about his representation of urban political and social life. Sure, he shows the drugs, the crime, the corruption, etc. but narratively there is no place in his vision for what I’ll call (for lack of a better word) the crackpots.”

You know what I’m talking about. These aren’t crazy people exactly, but people who show up at a zoning board meeting to talk about some personal bugaboo which they’ve been harping about for twenty years and still haven’t gotten anyone to listen. In online forums and comment boards these people invariably show up and try to take over the conversation and they do the same in real life as well.

Of course you can’t show these people in a TV drama. Just doing so would be to let the trolls take over the story, diverting it away from the central narrative — exactly what these people want to do. But here’s the thing, if you want to show democracy in action, if you want to show diversity and civil society as it is really lived, you can’t pretend these people don’t exist. I don’t know what the solution is, but for me their absence detracts from the gritty realism Treme is trying to project.