Posted Monday, May 3, 2010, at 5:02 PM
After eating a rich meal at Janette Desautel's New Orleans restaurant in the first episode of
, Creighton Bernette (John Goodman) is still a little peckish. Desautel is clean out of dessert, so she reaches into her purse for a frozen apple pie from
bakery. Her sous chef agrees to "gussy it up."
Let me prove to you how much I enjoyed that first episode of David Simon's new series. I was so enthusiastic that my boyfriend and I purchased a case of frozen pies from that same bakery. (The bakery, by the way, was not actually open for business in November 2005, when Treme is set — a fact Simon acknowledged in an open letter to the Times-Picayune.) For $50, Hubig's overnighted us 4 peach, 4 blueberry, and 4 apple. That's a lot of money for pie, but we were confident that these delicious delicacies would be the ideal complement to the remarkable episodes to come.
The pies arrived a few days after episode 2, which we didn't particularly like. As my colleague (and New Orleans native) Josh Levin noted , the mid-western do-gooders were just painful to watch: they were too earnest, too naïve. But we weren't worried. Surely, David Simon knows what he's doing, we thought. We decided to try the peach flavor first, and quickly put them in the microwave to defrost.
The pies were disgusting. Gooey, synthetic peach in a Pop-Tart-like shell — the sort of dessert you might buy in a gas station. We blamed the microwave, and the fact that we weren't planted in front of Treme as we ate. We stored the remaining pies in the freezer and waited for episode 3.
This time we heated up the pies in the oven and gussied them up with caramel ice cream. They were still disgusting. And the episode was on par with the pies. Creighton Bernette is a caricature of an angry college professor. Sonny, the pianist, is oh-so-clearly lying about his heroic rescue efforts during Katrina. (My guess: he was actually on a drug binge.) Davis McAlary is so sincere he's pathetic. And is there only one honorable lawyer in all of New Orleans? Why is Creighton's wife defending all of the main characters in their various run-ins with the NOPD?
Episode 4, pie 3: No change. The apple goop was like the peach and blueberry goop, just apple flavored. Creighton discovers YouTube, and broadcasts himself — another opportunity for Simon to turn a character into a mouthpiece. Through Davis he tells us what's great about the Big Easy. Through Creighton, he voices the city's discontent at getting left behind by the federal government. Sonny plays keyboard at a bar in Houston, then stews when someone takes his place and plays better. I'd like this show better if it were more experimental — just music in New Orleans.
Disappointed by my $50 pies, I emailed my colleague Josh, the New Orleans native. "I had a Hubig's pie. Not very tasty, I don't think" I wrote. "Yes, they're not really known for 'being good,'" he responded. Treme may well earn the same reputation.