David Simon Takes "The Wire" to the Big Easy

Illustration for article titled David Simon Takes "The Wire" to the Big Easy

Fans of "The Wire" and fans of the Big Easy are about to get one mother of a mashup: David Simon, reporter, author, and prolific creator of HBO's "The Wire" as well as other classic dramas like "Homicide: Life On The Street" and "The Corner," has confirmed plans to create a series for HBO based in post-Katrina New Orleans. VARIETY has the details:

"Treme" centers on New Orleans residents – including musicians and a restauranteur – living in the city’s Treme district. Show follows the characters as they look to reclaim their lives as the city continues to rebuild.

"It will be uplifting at points, and may make viewers a little angry at points," Simon said. "And at another point it will make viewers a little depressed."


What a surprise. I for one, am overjoyed that Simon's despairing, almost nihilistic style may be back to keep me up at night, pondering the endless provocations of his urban portraits. Episodes were always journalistic, offering crash course on corner boys, seventh grade, and city hall corruption. And, though depressing, "The Wire" was at its best when it explored the intersection of Hobbesian agression, human weaknesses, and the dysfunctional system of government in America. By the show's end, the law seemed to be a character in its own right—bruised and prideful and omnipresent. (See Erin Evans' must-read rundown of "Wire" lore for more.)

But, despite the fact that some of the same actors from the Emmy-less (!) HBO hit will partner on the new NOLA project, Simon insists that "this is not going to be 'The Wire: New Orleans.' " Fair enough. This remix might avoid the drug trade and gang wars, but it seems clear that it, too will have an omnipresent figure: the city of New Orleans.

"This is about people reconstituting their lives after their town was mostly, effectively destroyed… It's not entirely a political show. We're trying to be very intimate with people. And New Orleans is completely unique, there's nothing in the world like it."

And Simon, who testified in Congress tofday on the future of journalism, seems to be unable to help a dash of the political:

Simon noted that there's even perhaps the story of New Orleans can be used as a metaphor for the country's current economic woes.

"Look at what happened down there after Katrina," he said. "A lot of things in which New Orleans depended on and trusted turned out to be wholly undependable and untrustworthy. The governing institutions were supposed to monitor things of actual construct like the levees and the pumping stations. That could be an allegory for what we Americans presumed about our financial institutions, and the governing bodies that were supposed to monitor them.

"New Orleans found itself on its ass some years ago, and the rest of the country stared at it as it it was a unique case," Simon said. "In some sense, Katrina is an outwire of what the rest of the country was going to experience."

In a time that's been called too soon to make art about Hurricane Katrina, it will be fascinating to see how that dynamic plays out.


Covers the White House and Washington for The Root. Follow her on Twitter.