HBO Stands Behind Treme

During the shooting of the season finale, HBO renewed Treme for a third season. On Sunday, Dave Walker announced in The Times-Picayune that HBO has given David Simon and Eric Overmyer an open-ended order for additional seasons after that:

Richard Plepler and Michael Lombardo, HBO’s co-president and programming president, respectively, both said they renewed their modestly-viewed, New Orleans-set drama because they like it and believe that it’s telling important stories.

“There wasn’t any question from Michael and me that we wanted David to continue his narrative, and we told him that,” Plepler said. “It really wasn’t, frankly, even a decision for us. He wasn’t done telling the story, and we have such respect for him and regard for him, we want him to feel he’s expressed what he wants to express.”

The question then becomes how long Simon and Overmyer see the story going. During the first season, there was talk of five seasons, but last season, Simon was less committal:

We joked after we saw the BP thing and the Super Bowl happened in the same season, “Oh, Christ, can’t wait to get to season five!” But that was a joke and we hadn’t thought about it in any intelligent way. It may be that that is the place to end the show and that there is plenty of material that won’t be addressed in the first three seasons to justify it, but you have to keep climbing a mountain and at any point if you plateau, and all you’re doing is being incremental to your story and purpose and themes, then you’re ruining your viewer’s experience. No one believes this because there’s so much money in TV that if you get a franchise up and running, your job is to keep it running, but that’s a hack’s road.

I would be as ashamed to go to HBO with any incremental argument as I would be to not finish when I know there’s more to say. No one says to you when you get to chapter 18, “Listen we’re not going to do the last six chapters,” but television is its own beast. I find that to be the most debilitating thing, to do these things with the constant fear that you will be thwarted before you can say everything you want to say. I just had a conversation with HBO and said, “It’s my job to tell you what the plan is, and to have a plan, and have it be the best plan. I don’t know if it’s three, four or five [seasons] and neither does Eric. But we will know somewhere between the end of this season and beginning of the next one. And it’s my hope there will be a next one.”

–Alex Rawls