Why You Should Have Been Watching “Treme” Instead of “The Killing”

Emily Nussbaum is one of the few television writers that has my ear. So when she writes an essay about why I should’ve been watching the second season of Treme instead of the first season of The Killing, I’ll hear her out.

But now I’m interested in all the characters, even the chatty D.J., even the gloomy New Orleans Indian, hell, even the mediocre guitarist/junkie. Wendell Pierce is great, Khandi Alexander is great, Melissa Leo is great, her daughter is great, I’m not quite as interested in the saintly violinist but she certainly has her moments, and the newest character — a shark of a real-estate speculator played by hip-twitching Jon Seda — adds a welcome note of aggression. Unlike the dour cartoons in The Killing, these people feel at once real and unfamiliar. The Killing got a ton of unearned praise for its portrayal of Rosie Larsen’s bereaved family, but Treme has gone a mile deeper into grief, tracing Creighton’s family’s shock and denial, but also giving other characters meaningful traumas that scar rather than resolve. There’s plenty of joy onTreme. But when its characters hurt, it’s more than one-note wailing.

I lost interest in Treme somewhere around the 3/4 mark of season one, slogged through until the end and gave it two episodes into season two to win me back. It didn’t. Not sure if I’ll reconsider, but Nussbaum makes a compelling case.

As for The Killing, plot holes and problems aside, I mostly enjoyed it and wasn’t turned off by the finale. Just not sure I’ll have room for it in my life when season two comes back on the air.

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