Treme is definitely not a show for everyone. And that is fine. Most likely, if you're a fan of David Simon's The Wire, you will probably have the utmost patience with this carefully and skillfully constructed character drama, realizing there will be a payoff down the line.
In the mean time, the viewer slowly, yes slowly, gets to know a wide array of characters as well as become totally engulfed in a post-Katrina New Orleans. It is often depressing and saddening. It is true that the first 3-4 episodes are slow. The viewer does wonder where the story is going, where the intrigue will come from, and what exactly is Simon going for. There are several scenes each episode where the music seems to go on too long and is filmed just for the sake of the music, not necessarily because it helps the story. In this way, it is not quite the equal of The Wire. Things are sometimes too slow and meandering.
But....please....if you're a fan of well planned character studies, if you appreciate the art and skill in a form of film that is unique and original, stick with Treme for the entire season. If The Wire was a "slow burn", Treme is a long smoldering fire left to burn after midnight, just to still be there in the morning. You think it's going to go out, but instead it just continues to build and draw you in. By episode 5 or 6, the contemplative & intelligent viewer will be won over. By the end, you are completely riveted to the fortunes of the central 7-8 characters.
I cannot say enough for David Simon's ability to create something that is so different than 95% of what passes for drama and TV on the current airwaves. Every scene is crafted for a reason, every character is painstakingly created. Nothing is wrapped up in 55 (or 41) minutes, there are no shallow, one sided caricatures (other than maybe Sonny) that is the absolute norm on most network TV shows. CSI? Law and Order? The Mentalist? Child please....
Such episodic creations like CSI are for the average viewer who wants no challenge, wants a tidy ending tied in a bow, and who can care less for an artfully executed show. Treme attempts to reflect, and represent, true life as much as possible. Real life has an ebb and flow, very little is tidy, minimally is it black & white. There are gray areas. Sometimes you do the right thing, sometimes you cut corners. If you require ease and tidiness to be entertained, please don't attempt this show....instead stick with David Caruso's Horatio on CSI: Miami, an absolute farce rife with simple and obvious one-liners that exist no where except in the festering pool of prime-time network TV written for the average viewer who is incapable of deeper thought, critical thinking, and patience.
To call these characters one-dimensional must mean that you've watched with one eye or "didn't get it". Almost everyone in the show exhibits admirable traits but also some traits that may be annoying, irresponsible, or questionable. I can say the same things about almost everyone I know in real life. No one is perfect, but most people strive to be the best they can. Wendell Pierce's Antoine Batiste changes and fluctuates throughout the 10 episodes, turning into a well-rounded human being with depth. The same can be said for Steve Zahn's Davis, who starts very clownish, but who slowly turns into a real person with a serious and sensitive side. I could go on and on, referring to The Chief, his son, LaDonna, Annie, Creighton, Toni, etc. Nevermind Kim Dickens' Janette, probably the most well-liked character that the viewer pulls for the most. She is incredibly multi-dimensional and deep, from her struggle as restaurant owner to her relationship with Davis. Also, shame on some posters that seemingly have ZERO knowledge about suicide, why it happens, how it effects the survivors, and how it often occurs with little warning, committed by an individual with a "fine and normal" life. There was nothing wrong with how Simon portrayed this un-named characters' suicide which served to represent the many people that took this route in the aftermath of such trauma.
As far as New Orleans itself, it seems to be a believable and life-like portrayal of it. I've been there 3 times ('04, '05, '09) for a week each time and can say its a place I want to return to often. The food, the music, the history, the people...are all unique and quite a National treasure. Any vitriol for the city or its people completely makes ZERO sense to me and probably reflects ignorance and close mindedness. What the city and its people have had to go through is amazing and something that 99.9% of us will never have to experience. This show attempts to capture this feel, this struggle, the identity of a city and it's attempt to resurrect itself. The characters all reflect, seemingly realistically, an aspect of this struggle, the effects of such trauma, what happened to its citizens, and what it takes to come back, and who/what may be in the way of such recovery. Obviously, if you've never experienced New Orleans, "don't get" the city, care nothing about music, you may indeed be behind the 8 ball when it comes to the patience and focus needed for this show.
Once again, it is not for everyone. It takes focus, it takes time, and it takes faith. Many people may need more explosions, more "gotcha" moments, more spoon fed explanations, and more clichés.
Bravo to Simon for another wonderfully and painstakingly created drama that only HBO would have the courage to stick with. The art, skill, and vision inherent in what he has done with this show, and The Wire, is truly an American treasure worthy of all the praise that may come its way.