Stock characters are usually a source of concern, but David Simon does them better than anyone ever has on television
I've now seen two episodes of Treme, David Simon's new show about New Orleans after Katrina, and it's probably not surprising that I love it. The primary demographic for The Wire seems to have been journalists living in large cities, after all. (Which only made his slap at us in Season Five all the more bitter . . . )
I don't like it quite as much as the Wire, however. For one thing, there are a few tiny, but still jarring notes, like the kids from the church group in episode two. That whole plotline made two things clear: David Simon heard a lot of negative things about idiots from church groups; and David Simon has absolutely no idea how a church group operates. Suffice it to say that even the kinds of liberal northern churches I grew up around do not let kids who are not old enough to drink wander around without the group, and that any kids who managed to slip the chaperonage did so fully intending to get into thoroughly unapproved trouble, not because they were inadvertently blindsided by the fleshpots of New Orleans.
On a similar, but amusing rather than annoying note, the clothes on the actors seem to be what David Simon observed people in New Orleans wearing last year . . . not what they were wearing five years ago.
But these are quibbles. What I'm really asking myself is whether to be disappointed or comforted by the emergence of David Simon devices that are common between series, especially the charming but unreliable rogue who goes through marriages because he can't keep it in his pants. On the one hand...well, who has a good word to say for stock characters? On the other hand, David Simon does those stock characters better than anyone has ever done them on television. And there is something to be said for them; it's comforting to return to the same themes in the hands of an artist you've loved.