In a time when TV ratings are everything and series renewals can be very tentative, HBO has jumped the gun and renewed its new series Treme after just one airing. It’s a move that’s nearly unheard of in the business.
Created by David Simon and Eric Overmyer, who created The Wire for HBO, Treme is a drama about a neighborhood in post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans. It starts three months after the hurricane hit and follows residents of the neighborhood trying to rebuild their lives and their homes. The show stars Khandi Alexander, Rob Brown, Kim Dickens, Michiel Huisman, Melissa Leo, Lucia Micarelli, Clarke Peters, Wendell Pierce, Steve Zahn, and John Goodman.
Treme premiered this past Sunday night with 1.4 millions viewers throughout its different airings. HBO is obviously pleased with that turnout, being that the final season of The Wire averaged just 890,000 viewers. HBO president Michael Lombardo compares Treme to the highly respected Wire, in that they both have audiences that are “so passionate and invested.” It’s his belief that people will become addicted to Treme, and HBO wants to be the type of network that allows that kind of excellence to continue.
The connection between Treme and The Wire and New Orleans goes much deeper than just the same creators. The first star to be hired for the series was Pierce, star of The Wire. He’s a native of New Orleans, while Overmyer lives part time in New Orleans, and Goodman is a longtime resident of the area. Whenever they could, casting looked to hire Big Easy natives.
Lombardo indicated that the early renewal of Treme has just as much to do with the ratings success as the series itself. “We’ve seen the first nine episodes; it’s as strong as any show we’ve seen.”
The series will go back into production this fall, with the second season premiering in the spring of 2011, the same time as HBO’s next new project, Game of Thrones, hits the air.
Image courtesy HBO.